Iron County Sheriff Introduces Ignite Program
“We see the same things in law enforcement, where you see intergenerational criminal activity.” That's what Iron County Sheriff Ken Carpenter told us on the radio show this morning as a basis for a new program being introduced next month in the Iron County Jail.
The program, called Ignite, will be put in to place on January 25th. Ignite in this case is an acronym for “Inmate Growth Naturally and Intentionally Through Education.” The program had its origin in the Genesse County Jail in Michigan under the direction of Sheriff Christopher R Swanson.
Ignite has been endorsed by the National Sheriff's Association where it caught the attention of Sheriff Carpenter. In speaking about the program, Carpenter gave some statistics from the first year the program was in place in Genesse County. “In the first year this program it reduced assaults on other inmates or jail staff from 364 to 7,” the sheriff told us.
In addition, the Ignite program also provided a positive view of the sheriff's office in Michigan. “Where before it was very confrontational, very adversarial between the community and the sheriff's office. Now, they have deputies who make traffic stops, for example. People tell them 'my brother is in the jail, you're providing them with this educational opportunity, he's so positive about it, our whole family's excited by it,'” Carpenter said.
The mission of the Ignite program is to reverse the cycle of intergenerational incarceration through education. Educating inmates has numerous benefits that help reduce recidivism and make the community safer. By providing inmates with valuable job training, they are equipped with skills they can use upon release to gain meaningful employment and reduce their likelihood of re-offending.
Additionally, the Ignite program is providing positive reinforcement while incarcerated through educational programs gives inmates much-needed hope, which has been found to reduce violent behavior and fights among inmates.
Sheriff Carpenter told us there have been some educational programs available in the Iron County Jail, such as the opportunity for inmates to obtain their GED. But Ignite will offer so much more. Some of the programs being contemplated at the Iron County Jail are English as a second language, welding, robotics and the pursuit of an associates degree the online courses from Snow College.
“When we look at the recidivism rates and what not that we have in our current facilities, we need to be able to change that,” Carpenter told us. Ignite looks to be an effective tool in making those changes.