Education and training options will be made available to jail inmates in Hennepin County to help create better opportunities when they return to the community.
The HOPE (Helping Others by Providing Education) initiative will include GED programs and classes in financial literacy and vocational training. Nearly 30% of inmates in the county don't have a high school diploma or GED, Sheriff David Hutchinson said at a news conference Monday.
"We know that many inmates in our jail and in other jails around the country lack a formal education and are unemployed; many have little chance to succeed personally and professionally once they're released," he said.
The effort is modeled after IGNITE, a jail education program started last year in Genesee County, Mich. At the news conference, Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson said nearly 500 students have enrolled in the program, nearly 35,000 coursework hours have been logged and reading and math scores among inmates have risen several grade levels.
Once inmates are released from the Hennepin County program, they will be matched with community resources to help them continue their education and skills development.
Hutchinson said his office is working with a variety of government agencies, nonprofits and private-sector partners. Classes will be provided by Minneapolis Public Schools Adult Basic Education, and several businesses will provide jobs to inmates who complete their training.
The Minnesota Department of Human Rights says the state's three-year recidivism rate has ranged from 35% to 37% in recent years.
"Every inmate deserves a second chance. It's about changing their mindset, so they never come back again," Hutchinson said.
Classes will be offered two hours daily in each housing unit. Inmates who participate will earn access to tablets after class.
Besides inmate classes, Hutchinson has started several other jail programs, including an opioid treatment program and another making a social worker available to help with mental health issues.
David Chanen • 612-673-4465