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Maura Healey’s proposed Massachusetts budget includes $10M for inmate education ahead of reentry

Boston Herald - 3/22/2023

A portion of Gov. Maura Healey’s first proposed budget aims to help ex-cons with roughly $10 million set aside for expanded educational programs for reentering society.

To see what that money could be going toward, the governor sat down with the state Department of Correction and Executive Office of Public Safety and Security (EOPSS) in a discussion for the needs of that community and took a tour of the School of Reentry housed in a minimum-security prison, the Boston Pre-Release Center, in Roslindale.

“Our investment in quality educational opportunities and reintegration planning will improve the transition from incarceration to community by increasing access to sustainable employment, improving economic equality, and tearing down structural barriers,” Healey said.

More than half — $5.1 million — of that $10 million in the governor’s budget proposal will go toward personal tablets for reentry program students to use in the programs. The remaining funds break down into $3.4 million to expand High School Equivalency Test and hybrid learning opportunities and $1.5 million directly toward the School of Reentry and the Credible Messengers mentorship program.

The School of Reentry was founded in 2016 by EOPPS and is a program that lasts from a year to a year and a half in a goal to allow inmates “an opportunity to maximize the end of their incarceration time immersed in education, personal, career and technical education training,” according to its website.

The school is partnered with the Benjamin Franklin Cummings Institute of Technology, Brandeis University and MIT for much of its programming.

The goal isn’t just for the enrichment of the program’s students, but to reduce recidivism in the state.

Healey isn’t the first to champion the program. Her predecessor, Gov. Charlie Baker, took a tour of the facility seven years ago when it began the school.

“This for me is a great example of what can be done, in a tangible and serious way, to help people find their way back into purposeful life and productive society,” he said during his May 10, 2016 tour of the facility.

To the students he said, “I hope you realize that life is a movie, not a photo. And those frames are ultimately up to you.”

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