Inmates at Hillsdale County Jail will have the opportunity to earn general equivalency degrees under a new educational program beginning March 1.
Hillsdale County Sheriff Scott Hodshire hoped to give inmates that opportunity since his election.
“During my campaign for sheriff, I knew we had to do some rehab,” Hodshire said. “Not only are we seeing the same people here, but we are also starting to see their children. We must break this chain.
The program provides inmates with access to a full range of adult education services offered through the state-funded Michigan Works! South East. According to Hodshire, inmates will soon have the opportunity to earn a high school diploma from Hillsdale High School, while also accessing various career services.
Executive Director of Michigan Works! Southeast Shamar Herron said the team is eager to help inmates create long-term plans to achieve their career goals.
“Lifelong learning is one of our agency’s core values, which aligns perfectly with this collaboration,” Herron said. “We are excited to provide this opportunity to residents who are currently in Hillsdale County Jail to increase their skills and obtain their high school leaving certificate.”
Hodshire said the program will require a long-term commitment from participating inmates.
“We need to give people in prison the chance to improve,” Hodshire said.
Hodshire said it was waiting to partner with Michigan Works! for a long time. The partnership had been in the works for about a year, Hodshire said, until COVID-19 put everything on hold.
“It has always been a top priority for me. It was just waiting for the right time and the opportunity to happen,” Hodshire said.
Nicole Bell, Michigan Works Communications Manager! Southeast said the program will use one of the Michigan Works! Mobile One-Stop Centers, a mobile training bus, on Tuesdays and Thursdays for lessons. The bus allows inmates to access the technology and resources needed to complete their education. Hodshire said the entire jail will be needed to power the bus.
Ultimately, Bell said, this program offers more than just an educational opportunity.
“After they graduate,” Bell said, “our dedicated team members will continue to work with them to create and follow a career path and make connections to a brighter future.”