National Sheriffs’ Association Receives Grant from Stand Together Trust to Expand I.G.N.I.T.E. and Improve Jail Operations for Returning Citizens Across the Country
Grant will spread educational and rehabilitative programming to county jails nationwide.
May 16, 2023, Arlington, VA – The National Sheriffs’ Association today announced it has received a grant from the Stand Together Trust to support the expansion of I.G.N.I.T.E. (Inmate Growth Naturally and Intentionally Through Education), a nationwide initiative that provides educational and rehabilitative programming in local jails. The grant will help them facilitate the expansion to additional offices throughout the country.
I.G.N.I.T.E. was launched by Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson on September 8, 2020 with the goal of breaking generational cycles of incarceration through hope and education. It provides people in jail – who may not have marketable job skills or a complete education – with educational courses, job training, and even life-skills classes on topics such as nutrition and financial literacy to ensure they can find steady employment and contribute to their communities upon reentry.
“Stand Together Trust is thrilled to be supporting such an innovative program,” said Vikrant Reddy, senior fellow for criminal justice at Stand Together Trust and advisory board member for I.G.N.I.T.E.. “Improving local jails is an often-overlooked public safety solution, but it is a critical one given that jails are often the first point of contact for people entering the judicial system. As I.G.N.I.T.E. shows, positive jail interventions can help people get back on the right path – and help communities stay safe and thrive.”
Admissions rates to county jails are 20 times higher than for prisons, yet most educational and rehabilitative in-facility programming is concentrated in state prisons. County jails are overlooked, even though they provide an opportunity to intervene before people fall deeper into the system.
More than 600,000 people are held in jail on a given day. Around 90% of these people will return to their communities, so setting them up for successful reentry is crucial to preventing recidivism and upholding public safety.
“With this type of support, I.G.N.I.T.E. is going to impact countless lives across the county,” said Genesee County, MI, Sheriff Chris Swanson. “I’ve seen so many people lose hope when they enter jail. But I.G.N.I.T.E. is proof that with the right support and programming, people can break free from even generational cycles of incarceration. As law enforcement officers, I.G.N.I.T.E has allowed us to form incredible relationships with the community members we serve, which is necessary for ensuring community safety.”
I.G.N.I.T.E has now spread to 12 counties across the country, the most recent being Collin County, Texas, under Sheriff Jim Skinner. Since its public launch, I.G.N.I.T.E has enrolled more than two thousand students who have completed more than 250,000 classroom hours and logged 19,000 hours of coursework. I.G.N.I.T.E. has even decreased violent incidences in participating jails by 90% on average.
“When I became Sheriff, it was clear the traditional jail system was not well-equipped to help people get back on track or to promote public safety,” said Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden. “By rehabilitating the people who come through our doors, we can prevent future crime and help our community members live better lives. I’m grateful to Sheriff Swanson, the National Sheriffs’ Association, and Stand Together Trust for helping to bring this model to jails across the country.”
“I.G.N.I.T.E. is a unique model, and it will be implemented to match the needs of each specific community,” said National Sheriffs’ Association Executive Director and CEO Jonathan Thompson. “We’re excited to be able to partner with the Stand Together Trust because of its emphasis on localized, bottom-up solutions to ensure community safety. We can’t wait to see where this program goes.”
About The National Sheriffs’ Association
The National Sheriffs’ Association is one of the largest non-profit associations of law enforcement professionals in the United States, representing more than 3,000 elected sheriffs across the nation, and with a total membership of approximately 14,000 individuals. NSA is dedicated to raising the level of professionalism among sheriffs, their deputies, and others in the field of law enforcement, public safety, and criminal justice. Throughout its eighty-three-year history, NSA has also served as an information resource for all law enforcement, as well as local, state, and federal government agencies.
About Stand Together Trust
Stand Together Trust invests in social entrepreneurs developing solutions to America’s most pressing problems. Alongside inspiring partners, we drive solutions on criminal justice, education, economic opportunity, health care, and dozens of other pressing issues. Read more about our support for social entrepreneurs committed to criminal justice reform. Learn more at www.standtogethertrust.org and www.standtogether.org. Join the Stand Together philanthropic community on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube.