WARREN – A group of inmates at the Maine State Prison have been given an opportunity at education. The partnership between the Department of Corrections and University of Maine at Augusta is helping give prisoners a second chance.
Inside the walls of The Maine Sate Prison, inmates are getting their shot at a college degree.
“I’ve seen significant transformation in the individuals that participate in the college program and do their time smartly,” said Department of Corrections Acting Commisioner Randall Liberty. “If someone’s going to come here and do three or four years it’s a good way to spend their time. When they’re released they’ll have a greater opportunity for jobs.”
Funded by the Doris Buffet Sunshine Lady Foundation and the Second Chance Pell Grant, the program has awarded more than 100 associate and bachelors degrees since 2006.
You can just see their change, their evolving humanness is just profound,” said UMA Off Campus Centers Director Deborah Meehan.
Twenty inmates received their degrees, and some of them aren’t finished. Their goal is to make sure they don’t come back to prison once they get out.
“Of those UMA College students from the MSP program we have a one percent recidivism rate compared to the state’s which is about 67 percent,” said Meehan.
Tuesday’s ceremony celebrated each graduate as they receive degrees in the field of liberal arts.
“Education has allowed me to grow into more than just the young man I was when I committed my crime, but to be like a real grown up with dreams and hopes again,” said graduate Brandon Brown.
Brown is already enrolled in a masters program, and plans to pursue his Ph.D as well.
“To get the gift of education from somebody like Doris Buffet, there’s not more of a gracious gift you can get from somebody,” said Brown.
When released, he’s considering a career in teaching.