Governor Laura Kelly Announces Kansas Leads Country in Pell-eligible College Programming at Adult Correctional Facilities

TOPEKA – Governor Laura Kelly today announced that participation in post-secondary education at Kansas adult correctional facilities has increased by more than 50 percent over the past year. As of this month, all nine Kansas Consortium of Correctional Higher Education (KCCHE) member colleges have been accepted to the U.S. Department of Education PELL Experimental Site Initiative, which provides need-based Pell grants to people in prison. Because of these partnerships, Kansas now leads the country as the only state to provide Pell-eligible college programming in every adult correctional facility.

“Research shows that when people have access to correctional education, they’re more likely to get and hold down a job, avoid returning to prison, and successfully rebuild their lives post-release,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “By expanding affordable educational opportunities in our correctional facilities, we’re making Kansas a safer, more prosperous place for us all.”

There are currently 22 higher learning programs available in all adult correctional facilities within Kansas. Programs vary from career and technical education to associate degrees in a variety of studies and bachelor’s degrees in computer information systems and business administration or management. Today, there are 545 students enrolled in college courses, with 46 in bachelor’s degree programs, 338 in associate’s degree programs, and 161 students in Certificate or Certified Technical Education programs.

“Unlocking residents’ potential through expanded educational opportunities is a win-win for themselves and for the communities to which they will return,” Secretary of Corrections Jeff Zmuda said. “Those who get a livable wage job upon release are a third less likely to return to prison. And education is a key to unlocking that livable wage job.”

Expanding post-secondary education opportunities is one way in which KDOC is delivering on its goal of providing individualized, evidence-based, and data-driven services and increasing access to programs that increase public safety.

“We are changing the entire landscape of corrections education in the State of Kansas,” Dr. Chris Fanning, Kansas Department of Corrections Education Director, said. “We are recognized as a national model for excellence in collaboration through our state consortium, programming options that are stackable and transferable, and high standards in providing wrap-around student services for our population.”

The colleges and universities offering these programs include Washburn University, University of Saint Mary, Barton Community College, Butler Community College, Colby Community College, Cowley Community College, Donnelly College, Hutchinson Community College, and Kansas City Kansas Community College.