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Platte County inmates get opportunity to finish high school, free of charge

Student in classroom
Posted at 6:35 PM, May 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-12 20:48:39-04

PLATTE COUNTY, Mo. — A first-of-its-kind partnership will soon give Platte County inmates who were unable to graduate high school the opportunity to finish.

“This is the first time we’re taking our program into such a place," said Executive Director of A Turning Point Academy, Cathy McIntire.

Beginning June 7, A Turning Point Academy in the Northland will take its educational program and services into jail for those who have signed up. It's a program free to the inmate and taxpayer.

“It's an opportunity that empowers them, an opportunity to just gain confidence and a skill set that gets them to a different place in life,“ McIntire said.

It wouldn't be possible without volunteer educators like Susan Prewitt, who will be at the jail several times a week to tutor inmates, proctor exams and build educational relationships once the program begins.

“We take you where you are and we move forward with you," Prewitt said.

She emphasized this is not a GED program

"This is totally personalized where you work at your own pace, you work at what you need to work on,” Prewitt said.

“Education is important because it opens doors in every arena of your life from just getting gainfully employed to seeking higher education or a trade school, whatever it may be — it just gives you the opportunity and the skill set to go to new places,” McIntire said.

Platte County Undersheriff Erik Holland said the reason for the partnership is simple.

"Part of the role of the criminal justice system is to make the community safe and seek justice, but part of it is also to make the community better," he said. "What they may have done to get into the jail doesn’t impact the responsibilities we have towards them.“

The diploma completion program is voluntary to inmates and can be finished before or after they leave incarceration.

“The biggest thing would be the loved ones of the inmates encouraging them not only to enroll in the program but then also giving them the encouragement to stick with it whether they’re in custody or out of custody," Holland said.

“It just gives the people coming out opportunity to improve their own lives and when you improve people’s lives you improve society," Prewitt said. “Everyone should have the opportunity to be educated no matter where they are in life.“

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