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Photo attached: (L to R): Kimberly Hogan, CT State Middlesex campus CEO; Jill Flanigan, CT State Middlesex professor; Tess Wheelwright, Wesleyan University Center for Prison Education director; Jason Torello, CT State Middlesex alumnus; Gov. Ned Lamont; U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona; Terrence Cheng, CSCU chancellor; Daniel Karpowitz, undersecretary for criminal justice policy and planning; Pamela Frost, Middlesex professor emeritus; and O. John Maduko, M.D., CT State Community College president.

Connecticut State Community College (CT State) hosted U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona at its Middlesex campus on April 16, commemorating national Community College Month by highlighting the importance of partnerships and high-quality career pathways for incarcerated students in prison education programs.

Cardona was joined by Governor Ned Lamont, faculty members, graduates, and officials from CT State, Connecticut State Colleges and Universities, and Wesleyan University for a roundtable discussion held during his visit to Connecticut. The discussion highlighted the importance of prison education programs at CT State and emphasized the partnership between CT State Middlesex and Wesleyan, one of only a few public/private prison education collaborations in the nation.

To date, through fall 2023, CT State has extended educational opportunities to 1,828 incarcerated students across its Asnuntuck, Housatonic, Middlesex, Quinebaug Valley, and Three Rivers campuses, through partnerships with nine CT correctional facilities.

“Providing equal access to postsecondary education for all students lies at the heart of CT State as an open enrollment, community-based college,” said CT State President John Maduko, M.D. “Education serves as a catalyst for societal and economic advancement. By broadening educational access, including within correctional facilities, we not only invest in individual futures but also pave the way for safer communities and fiscal responsibility."

Recent legislative advancements, including the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Simplification Act of 2020, have expanded access to education for confined individuals.  

Statistics affirm the transformative impact of education on reducing recidivism rates. Studies show that those who participate in education programs while incarcerated have 48 percent lower odds of returning to prison compared to their counterparts. Every dollar spent on prison-based education saves taxpayers $4 to $5 in incarceration costs, according to the nonprofit RAND Corporation.

The collaboration between CT State Middlesex and Wesleyan began in 2016, and enables students at York and Cheshire correctional facilities to take courses from either college, culminating in an associate degree from Middlesex. Graduates have the opportunity to transfer credits toward a bachelor’s degree at Wesleyan. 

Noteworthy CT State programs such as general studies, business administration, manufacturing, human services and marketing help prepare students for transfer to bachelor’s degrees and provide in-demand skills upon reintegration.

The success stories emerging from CT State’s prison education programs underscore the transformative power of education.

Brian Sullivan, Sr. took classes through CT State Asnuntuck, graduating with a business administration certificate in May 2023. He is coordinator of two community manufacturing centers for an East Hartford university. “I know I was more than what I did, and I spent time in the CT Department of Corrections…but I knew that it wasn’t where I wanted to be or how I wanted to end up,” said Sullivan. “Taking college classes through the program was key … it allowed me to really dig in deep into myself … and ask why I made some choices and decisions…The program allowed me to see myself in a different light.”

Jason Torello, who received an associate degree from CT State Middlesex in 2018, is continuing with his bachelor’s degree at Wesleyan where he also works on campus at the Center for Prison Education as a reentry coordinator. “It’s so important for people in transition to stay connected to a community both from an academic and personal standpoint,” said Torello. “College is a space where a person can reconnect with their community and help to build and grow a new one. I would love to see more colleges get involved and invest in prison education programs.”

Approximately 70 percent of all jobs will require some form of postsecondary education by 2027, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

Each April, the U.S. Department of Justice celebrates Second Chance Month, which recognizes the role of individuals, communities and agencies in supporting the successful reentry of those who were previously incarcerated, and aims to highlight opportunities for state, local and community-based service providers to build second chances.   


Contact: Melissa Lamar, Director of Media & Public Relations
C:  860.836.4351