Educational Programming

Educational Programming

Our Mission:  To provide educational opportunities for students that will facilitate their successful transition from prison to the community.  These opportunities will help offenders develop their academic, work, and social competencies for them to become productive members of the prison community while incarcerated and contributing members of their communities upon release from prison.

Prisoner Education is committed to providing academic, technical, and workplace skills training for prisoners designed to enhance their ability to acquire and maintain a job upon release.  This is accomplished within a continuous quality improvement environment which contains cost while providing the most effective programs to ensure every prisoner obtains a High School Equivalency certificate or an industry-recognized certification in Vocational Training prior to leaving prison.  Eligible prisoners will also have an opportunity to learn workplace skills in Career and Technical Education (CTE), State Correctional Opportunities for Rehabilitation and Education (SCORE), Employment Readiness, soft skills training, or other work assignments available throughout the Department.

Education Programs:

Employment Readiness: Employment readiness is a classroom based curricula that offers the Microsoft Digital Literacy Certification, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Money Smart program, and job seeking preparation, including resume workshops, that are delivered to enhance a student’s ability for successful reentry and sustainable employment in the community.

Academic Classes: These classes led by certified teachers focus on improving students’ basic skills in the areas of math, reading and language arts, social studies and science with the goal of preparing them to take the High School Equivalency Exam. Classes offered at MDOC facilities include: Adult Basic Education (ABE) and HSE, English as a Second Language (ESL), and Special Education programming. Title I services are also offered. 

Career and Technical Education (CTE): CTE programs provide prisoners with specific trades instruction, technical skills and soft skill competencies critical to finding and maintaining employment. Our vocational programs are responsive to labor market demands. These programs will lead to state and/or nationally recognized certification upon completion and these skills are transferable into employment and/or post-secondary programming upon completion. The MDOC provides CTE programming in a flexible schedule offering open entry and open exit enrolment. School principals ensure classroom enrolment is maximized and waiting lists are kept to a minimum so each prisoner can achieve educational goals as efficiently and economically as possible.
Special institutional and community projects provide prisoners the opportunity to demonstrate hands-on skills through job-related programming and restorative justice opportunities.

Vocational Village: The Vocational Village is a state of the art, hands-on vocational training center located at MTU, SMT and WHV.  Students participating in this program simulate a full day’s work by taking part in intensive vocational instruction, while living in a dedicated housing unit with other students who share the same commitment to self-improvement through vocational training.  Classroom and laboratory areas are separated to allow students a positive learning environment and lab area for each trade to complete hands-on practical learning.  

Career and Technical Counseling (CTC):  A Career interest and aptitude assessment is provided to eligible prisoners. The counseling, which accompanies the test administration, assists the prisoner in selecting CTE programming within the prisons and in determining career paths upon release.

College (Post-Secondary Programs): The MDOC is partnering with several post-secondary providers to offer college classes inside prisons. These classes are credit-baring and are either grant funded or self-pay. Several Michigan colleges are participating in an Experimental Sites Initiative that is providing Federal Pell Grant funding to otherwise eligible students who are incarcerated, likely to be released within eight years of enrollment, and who meet internal conduct and security level screening. These classes lead to a degree or certificate. 

Our Policy Directive “Correspondence Courses” (05.02.119) allows prisoners to take college classes through the mail from several colleges and universities. MDOC staff can serve as proctors if needed.   

The Department is looking to expand all these opportunities for prisoners and realize the effect post-secondary education has on recidivism.

State Correctional Opportunities for Rehabilitation and Education (SCORE)/Prison Build: This program, formerly called Prison Build, allows prisoners to gain valuable work experience producing various items for non-profit organizations and state agencies. The MDOC collaborates with numerous organizations including Habitat for Humanity, The Children’s Trust Fund, the Ionia Free Fair, the Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Human Services, Goodwill Industries, and various Food Banks and Homeless Shelters. Items produced include house walls, cabinets, beds, countertops, picnic tables, landscaping plants, trees, and native grasses, as well as smaller items like cutting boards and plaques that are made from scrap wood. Prisoners that participate in this program are trained in MDOC Career and Technical Education (CTE) classes and earn state and/or national certifications. Under the umbrella of SCORE, prisoners participate in restorative justice projects while contributing to the community.