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Collin County Sheriff Launches Program To Help Inmates Re-Enter Society

The program will offer educational courses and job-based training
Photo: Collin County Sheriff’s Office

On April 12, 2023, Sheriff Jim Skinner announced Collin County would join the national program IGNITE. The program aims to provide inmates with education, job training and life-skills classes.

Inmate Growth Naturally and Intentionally Through Education (IGNITE) was started by Sheriff Christopher Swanson in the county jail in Genesee County, Michigan, in 2020. Since, Sheriff Swanson’s led the program to success in terms of reducing conflicts in the jail and improving re-entry opportunities.

According to a statement by the Collin County Sheriff’s Office, the majority of people in the program who are released from the county jail return to their local community with more opportunities for their future. 

"He created IGNITE to make an impact. He's an excellent leader and the successes of his program speak for themselves," Sheriff Skinner said. 

On April 12, 2023, Sheriff Swanson and Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, Sheriff Garry McFadden joined Sheriff Skinner at a formal launch of the IGNITE program held inside the Collin County Detention Center.

The National Sheriffs' Association (NSA) is assisting sheriffs across the nation to launch IGNITE. The NSA nonprofit association represents the nation's 3,086 sheriffs on Capitol Hill and supports them with law-enforcement education and training. The NSA assisted sheriffs in counties in North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio, North Dakota and South Dakota to launch IGNITE programs.

Jessica Vanderpool, NSA's Director of Grants and Contracts and Meghan Beal, NSA's IGNITE Project Manager, also attended Collin County's launch on Wednesday. 

The program in Collin County will offer educational courses, including ones to help a person complete a GED, and adult-education classes ranging from literacy skills to American Sign Language to budgeting and money-management skills. The program will also offer sets of short, connected classes on various skills, such as food service, commercial driving and barber skills. 

"Knowing that the majority of our jail population will one day return home, we recognize the importance of teaching inmates life skills that will help them to be better husbands, wives, parents, siblings and neighbors,” Sheriff Skinner said. “We reduce recidivism and make our communities safer by doing so."

The program will be designed so that a person may earn a certificate in a particular skill. Currently, the sheriff is working to open a licensed barber college and will integrate some of the IGNITE job training with the current bee-keeping program that is part of the inmate farming operation.

“The average length of a person's stay in county jail is much shorter than, say, prison, a key challenge is to design meaningful, progressive classes that together can add up to new skills or a new credential,” Sheriff Skinner said. “I am confident that our programs staff and detention officers will help people and do great things through IGNITE."