Media report on pilot program involving education professors, inmates

WABI (Channel 5) and WLBZ (Channel 2) reported on a pilot program being tested at the Penobscot County Jail to provide educational opportunities for female inmates. University of Maine’s College of Education and Human Development, Riverside Adult Education Partnership and Literacy Volunteers of Bangor have teamed up to offer the program. “What Now? What’s Next?” lets the women choose from services ranging from help with completing high school and preparing for college, to child development and parenting classes, to one-on-one tutoring in reading and writing. “What we came up with collaboratively was a menu of options for the women upon intake to start to think about what’s going on with their lives now. We kind of don’t care about the what’s already been, but what’s right now, and what’s next. And that’s the project that we’ve initiated here at the jail,” said Susan Bennett-Armistead, a project leader and UMaine literacy professor. So far, about 30 inmates have taken part in a group to improve their writing skills, WABI reported. Organizers also are working to connect the women to resources so they can succeed in the community, the report states.