Lack of money has become a problem in the effort to continue offering community college classes at Connecticut prisons, but educators say the benefits to inmates and society must be considered. “In the long run if you don’t do something for these guys, it costs so much more,” said Maura Gardiner, the teacher of the only course for general population inmates at Carl Robinson Correctional Institution. Gardiner told the Hartford Courant that inmates need help preparing for release to give them alternatives to crime. “You need something other than what you came in with,” said inmate and student Damain Lindsay, 31, who was sentenced two years ago on drug-sale charges.
The program, run by Asnuntuck Community College in Enfield, has been losing steam over the past few years, and faculty members say they aren’t optimistic about being able to offer a wide range of courses in the future. The five “Youth Offender” classes are funded with a $405,555 federal grant, but money for the older inmates’ classes comes from commissary surpluses and prison pay-phone calls, along with funds in the prison budget that do not come from tax revenue, state Department of Correction spokesman Brian Garnett said. Less money from the state recently has meant fewer educational opportunities, Garnett said.