Rockhurst University Announces New Partnership, Providing Educational Opportunities to Chillicothe Correctional Center

Tuesday, May 15, 2018
Bell Tower

Rockhurst University is announcing a partnership with the Missouri Department of Corrections to provide new educational opportunities for both incarcerated offenders and staff at the Chillicothe Correctional Center, an all-female facility with approximately 1,660 inmates located about 90 miles northeast of Kansas City.

Funded by grants from The Raskob Foundation for Catholic Activities, The Laffey-McHugh Foundation, and J.E. Dunn Construction, weekly class sessions are scheduled to begin Wednesday, May 16, at the center for an initial class of 20 inmates and 10 staff members, all of whom were chosen following an application process.

The first course offering will be composition, with courses in theology, mathematics, history and communications to follow in future sessions. Courses will be taught by both full-time and adjunct faculty members from Rockhurst University and will count as college credit hours for those enrolled.

“The establishment of the program with the women at Chillicothe is a natural expression of our Jesuit philosophy of education and formation that is rooted in accompaniment,” said Rockhurst University President the Rev. Thomas B. Curran, S.J. “We believe these newest companions will enhance our Jesuit enterprise of higher education that is all about the mutual transformation of the mind, body and spirit. Additionally, I believe this collective effort will help move us towards the common good we all desire.”

Numerous studies have shown that providing education opportunities in a correctional setting can help reduce recidivism rates. A 2013 analysis by the RAND Corporation and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance estimated that recidivism among those who participated in educational opportunities while incarcerated were 43 percent lower than that of the overall inmate population. Those who participate in similar programs of any kind while incarcerated are much more likely to obtain and maintain employment upon release. And measured against the costs of reincarceration, educational opportunities like Rockhurst University and the Chillicothe Correctional Center’s latest effort are cost-effective ways to reduce recidivism rates.

“The statistics speak for themselves — offenders have a much lower chance of re-entering the correctional system once released if they are given educational and other opportunities,” said Chris McBee, warden of the Chillicothe Correctional Center. “I don’t think our mission stops once these offenders leave the facility. We’ve been excited to launch this partnership with Rockhurst University for a long time because it’s a great fit with our goal to not just house offenders, but to offer them true chances to reform and better reintegrate into society once released.”