Lawmakers tour two-year college for inmates

Push to expand prisoner learning programs

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - There are hundreds of inmates in Alabama state prisons learning trades like welding and plumbing, and state lawmakers toured Ingram State Technical College for inmates Thursday.

“I can truly say that since I’ve been over at Ingram I’m not only a better student but a better person," said James Morgan, an electrical student at the two-year college. “I realized a lot of character traits that I didn’t realize I had."

He is one example of inmates learning the trades. Ingram State Technical College President Annette Funderburk said vocational programs lower the return of an inmate by 28 percent.

“A post secondary education makes a difference,” Funderburk said. “Our goal as a state should be to lower the return of these inmates.”

Right now only six correctional facilities get training from Ingram state technical college. Alabama Department of Corrections says the programs are not at every facility because not all of them have the buildings and security measures to handle them.

“We would certainly like to expand that and be included in the conversations," she said.

Lawmakers would need to approve additional funds for the programs. Senate Education Trust Fund committee chairman Sen. Arthur Orr said they are definitely planning more money for prisoner education.

Gov. Kay Ivey has said she wants to build three new regional prisons. The DOC said these regional prisons would help give inmates more opportunities to learn the trades.

Lawmakers could consider the plan in the upcoming session which starts in March.

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