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Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services Graduates First Peer Recovery Specialists

Inside a classroom at the maximum-security Jessup Correctional Institution, about halfway between the beltways surrounding Baltimore and Washington, DC, a group of men who had struggled with their past were beginning to realize a powerful truth: that their lived experiences could not only be used as a transformative tool to change their trajectory, but to also change the lives of others. And, key to it all: they’re not alone in their struggle. 

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‘Here is my opportunity to right some of my wrongs.’ Michigan prisoners believe education can change their lives

JACKSON, MI - Starting a life sentence without parole 27 years ago after he was convicted in the shooting death of a former Eastern Michigan University student left James Adrian feeling he didn’t have many options to better himself. 
When he learned he could earn an associate’s degree through the Jackson College Corrections Education Program, he was intrigued. But his ambition was quelled by the fact he wasn’t eligible for Pell grant funding like many of the program’s participants.

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Prisoners celebrate earning degrees from Jackson College inside a Michigan prison

JACKSON, MI - Shouldering what he described as “intolerable burdens” of self-disgust, shame and self consciousness while serving time in prison, Nathaniel Latham said his negative thought patterns began to change when he chose to face what was difficult in order to grow.

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Caps, Gowns and Barbed Wire: First-ever College Graduation in Prison was Joyous Celebration

IONIA — His tassel flipped from right to left, his name called from the podium and the grip-and-grin snapshot with Calvin University's president taken, James Sturdivant slowly sank back into his seat among his fellow college graduates. He opened the maroon-colored folder bearing his diploma, stared at it and shut the cover.

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Ionia Prisoners Receive Degrees from Calvin University

IONIA — More than 70 inmates at an Ionia prison received degrees in faith and community leadership Monday — hoping to take what they’ve learned to better their facilities and communities. The Calvin Prison Initiative (CPI) hosted its commencement ceremony Monday, May 9, at the Richard A. Handlon Correctional Facility, 1728 Bluewater Highway, in Ionia. There were 45 prisoners who received their bachelor’s degrees in faith and community leadership and 31 who earned their associate degree.

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Michigan Inmates Among Program's First to Earn Bachelor's Degrees

Ionia — Raymond Potts was heading to prison 16 years ago when he began to reflect on how his poor choices had affected his family, his friends and himself. Potts, then 36, realized he couldn't do anything about the two first-degree criminal sexual conduct convictions that landed him a sentence that will keep him in prison until at least 2050. So he worked to become a leader inside prison by getting involved in numerous educational activities, from mediation certification to seminary work to culinary arts.

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‘It means hope’: Inmates Graduate from Calvin Prison Initiative

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Springtime is graduation season all across the country and right here in West Michigan. You might not expect a graduation ceremony to take place inside the confines of a prison but that’s exactly what happened Monday.
The processional looked like most graduations: Guests gathered to see their loved ones receive certification that they had achieved an associate or bachelor’s degree, there was a commencement address and a presentation of the diplomas.

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Handlon Inmates Graduate Calvin University with Degrees, New Outlooks on Life

IONIA COUNTY, Mich. — For a few hours Monday, inside a tent decorated with maroon and gold, it was easy to forget where you were.
Among the music and the commotion and the robes and tassels, it was easy to forget that this graduation ceremony was being held inside the walls of a prison. But to the graduates leaving with their degrees, and their families, it didn’t matter. Diplomas are the same everywhere, as is the pride that comes with it.

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