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Bowie State's Program Prepares Incarcerated Men To Earn College Degrees

HBCU Bowie State’s degree program is changing the lives of the incarcerated.

Bowie State

The program is the first HBCU in the state of Maryland to help incarcerated men earn college degrees, according to Black Enterprise.

The program started in the fall of 2022, offering the opportunity for men to earn a bachelor’s degree in a program at the Jessup Correctional Institution. The program offers math, science, literature and several specialized courses in specific trades.

According to AfroTech, the program offers a second chance to excel after being released from prison in an effort to stay out of trouble while in prison.

Thanks to the help of dedicated professors, Bowie offers learning opportunities “under the funding of the Second Chance Pell Grant.” The revised grant “makes federal financial aid available to around 760,000 incarcerated students in 2023.”

To this point, the degree program has already improved the outlooks for those recently released from prison, which makes them 48% less likely to come return to prison following their initial release.

“This program is important in every citizen of Maryland because 90% of those who come in come back out,” Charles Adams, chair of Bowie State University’s department of criminal justice, said. “It’s far more damaging to release someone who is ill equipped. It gives them a second chance in life.”

While the program is predicted to take upwards of seven years for Jessup Correctional students to finish, Adams does support anyone who wants to increase their class load to finish earlier. Right now, the HBCU is already set to begin a pilot program for incarcerated women this fall if things go well.

And yes, the program is solid, but Adams said that more resources are needed.

The incarcerated students have been driven to learn and excel. Still, professors have communicated the need to open more classes, more tutoring time, more professors to teach, books, materials like printers, and projectors, as well as access to “online research journals conducive to learning.

Some professors have pushed themselves to be available to work on the weekends to ensure the students have time to meet with tutors face-to-face.


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