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Maryland Prisons, Universities to Start Novel Statewide Program

Maryland's Department of Corrections announced a new partnership with the University System of Maryland to offer higher education programs in each state-run prison, using federal Pell Grants to help incarcerated people pursue bachelor's degrees, The Baltimore Banner reports. The deal, the department says, makes it the first prison system in the country to formalize an agreement with “an entire state university system.” Carolyn Scruggs, secretary of the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, said in a statement that the agreement was a “milestone” for the agency. “This historic step puts us closer to ensuring our incarcerated population can improve their lives with education,” said Scruggs, a veteran of the department.

The memorandum of understanding will allow incarcerated people the opportunity to pursue bachelor’s degrees from any of the 12 universities within the University System of Maryland, according to a press release, using curricula “tailored to the needs and circumstances of incarcerated individuals and the establishment of pathways to continue their education or enter the workforce upon release.” University System of Maryland Chancellor Jay A. Perman's statement supported the partnership and called it a tool supporting the public good. “By allowing more incarcerated people to access college and to put their education to work after release, we’re not only expanding opportunities for these students, we’re strengthening the communities they return to,” Perman said. As the corrections department touts the new partnership, lawmakers have already passed bills awaiting signatures from the governor to further reshape prison education. Del. Marlon Amprey, a Baltimore Democrat, sponsored two bills that passed both chambers: one establishing a prison education delivery reform commission that would develop strategies to improve learning in state-run facilities, and another that would implement new requirements and better track educational outcomes of incarcerated people.


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