Prison education program creates pathways for inmates

Photo - Courtesy of MLive

JACKSON, MI (WLNS) – Through the Pathways from Prison program a number of inmates in Jackson prisons have the opportunity to take classes through Jackson College.

On average 80 percent of them make the dean’s list.

That’s a number that shocks many people.

6 News had the opportunity to talk with Jason Bell, a student in the program. He said it’s what the education did for his self-confidence that kept him going back to class and eventually got him on the dean’s list.

Jason Bell has been serving his sentence since his early 20’s.

He came in with a GED and 4th grade education.

Now, 35, he is preparing for life outside of a prison cell.

But his education is well above where it once was.

“I allowed the streets to support me, or to adopt me, a lot of the things I did was because of the attitude I had towards myself. And my family and the things that I was involved with,” said Jason Bell, Pathways from Prison Program.

Bell will be released Thursday after 12 long years in prison.

He says it was the self-confidence he learned from the Pathways from Prison Program.

That allowed him to improve his life and ultimately continue his education.

But he’s not the only success to come out of this privately-funded program.

“I have 19 students with a perfect 4.0 they take a lot of pride in their education they take a lot of pride in supporting one another, again this breaks down barriers for them,” said Kevin Rose, director, Prison Education Initiative.

The teachers too have been impressed. They say their inmate students are some of their best and they look forward to their progress.

“I never imagined for a million years that I would be in a prison teaching prisoners and helping them get back on their feet and again become productive citizens and so I’m actually really grateful for this opportunity,” said Lyndsey Adams, professor.

For now Bell can serve as an example. The program will follow him for the next two years in order to determine if an education truly improves a life and changes its course for the better.

Bell says one of the first things he’ll do once he’s out of prison will be to go to the candy store.

He’s planning on getting his associates in Grand Rapids, then go for his Bachelor’s Degree.

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