Five men at Jessup Correctional Institution are now proud degree-holders.
To improve the prospects of formerly incarcerated individuals, the University of Baltimore created the “Second Chance College Program” in 2016, enlisting its professors to instruct at the Jessup Correctional Institution, according to WBAL-TV 11. After serving their sentences, those individuals can continue their education on the college’s campus.
“One of the first things we try to do is find part-time work for them as soon as they come home on our campus,” Program Director Andrea Cantora said, per the outlet. “That could be working in any department on our campus, IT, the career center, admissions, the library. So we try to do that quickly so they can start working.”
The impact of the program can be seen already as five men at the Jessup Correctional Institution walked into praise and cheers during their graduation ceremony on Oct. 6, 2023. Earning their bachelor’s degrees in prison made it the “worst environment possible,” according to valedictorian Bradford Bass, 35.
However, the opportunity proved fruitful for the men as they joined four other graduates who have followed the program successfully. The ceremony also marked the university’s first at the Jessup Correctional Institution.
“[These were] students who were given a second chance, and took it. …This day belongs to you,” Tiffaney Parkman, director of the school’s human services program, said, according to The Baltimore Sun.
Graduate Michael White, 51, has great hopes for his next chapter. He plans to pursue entrepreneurship as he wants to launch a clothing line or start a food truck business. What’s more, he wants to ensure the next generation does not fall into the same mistakes that landed him behind bars. As a result, he aims to commit his time to a nonprofit closely involved with youth.
He is currently serving a sentence for convictions of murder and assault and is set to be released in March 2024.
“If you’re going to take me from my family, then rehabilitate me. Don’t send me out the same person I came in. Here was my opportunity,” White told The Baltimore Sun.