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Tribal advocates keep up legal pressure for fair political maps; 12-member jury sworn in for Trump's historic criminal trial; the importance of healthcare decision planning; and a debt dilemma: poll shows how many people wrestle with college costs.

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Civil rights activists say a court ruling could end the right to protest in three southern states, a federal judge lets January 6th lawsuits proceed against former President Trump, and police arrest dozens at a Columbia University Gaza protest.

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Wyoming needs more educators who can teach kids trade skills, a proposal to open 40-thousand acres of an Ohio forest to fracking has environmental advocates alarmed and rural communities lure bicyclists with state-of-the-art bike trail systems.

6 people in prison receive bachelor’s degrees from Lane College

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Thursday, December 21, 2023   

Bridging the gap between education and incarceration, six people in Tiptonville, Tennessee, recently got their bachelor's degrees through a historic collaboration with Lane College, a historically Black college in Jackson.

The Tennessee Higher Education in Prison Initiative allows inmates to earn associate's, bachelor's and even master's degrees.

Richard Donnell, senior adviser to the president at Lane College in Jackson, wrote the proposal for the college to participate in the Second Chance Pell Experiment program. He added the program's belief is education can reduce recidivism, meaning inmates who get degrees are less likely to go back to prison.

He noted in July, Congress restored the eligibility of incarcerated people to receive Pell grants so they can pursue college degrees.

"We are all pleased that we were able to get involved in it and to educate these young men," Donnell stated. "Which goes right toward our mission is to serve those who are underprivileged, and those who are deprived, disadvantaged. And so we're just fulfilling our mission and offering the education to them."

Donnell pointed out individuals who have experienced incarceration often face greater challenges in securing employment compared with those who have not been in prison. This accomplishment plays a pivotal role in their reintegration into society, making it more likely for them to find employment, start a business or pursue a profession.

Linda J. Theus, chair of the business department at Lane College, taught several subjects including personal finance, a class she said everyone needs daily. She emphasized the students learned practical money skills such as saving, spending less and simply being smart with their finances.

"One of the things that they really honed in on is money management, management skills, budgeting, how to invest your money, how to be conservative," Theus outlined. "Just simple things that they had not thought about and hindsight, you know, how to just be frugal. "

Theus added they are working with 11 students in the second cohort and some already have associate degrees from Dyersburg State Community College or equivalent coursework.

Support for this reporting was provided by Lumina Foundation.


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