Helping to restart lives

Educational programs for prisoners can have a big impact

When the Fort Dodge Correctional Facility began operations in 1998, expectations were high that what had been built here would add innovative capabilities to strengthen significantly the state’s prison system. Those expansive hopes are being fulfilled admirably.

Some prisons are little more than warehouses. That wasn’t the future charted for FDCF. The innovative nature of this facility was underlined earlier last week by a graduation ceremony.

Eighty-six offenders serving time at the correctional facility graduated from vocational and other programs that are offered there by Iowa Central Community College. Programs included high school equivalency, vocational technology welding, welding, supply chain management and culinary baking, as well as one inmate who graduated with an apprenticeship. The partnership between FDCF and Iowa Central dates back to when the prison opened.

Jerry Bartruff, director of the Iowa Department of Corrections, was on hand to congratulate those who had taken advantage of these educational opportunities and shown the dedication to complete them. He also gave the keynote speech. Bartruff stressed that these self-improvement undertakings help prisoners develop a game plan for restarting their lives once their period of incarceration is over.

“If you’re going to be successful, you need to have a plan,” Bartruff said. “You need to follow that plan and you need to be thinking about where you’re going.”

The Messenger strongly agrees.

We salute the team at FDCF and the administration and staff at Iowa Central for crafting a project that deserves enthusiastic support. Beyond that, however, the men who have accepted the challenge to reshape their lives deserve applause.