Pennington County launches innovative jail education/training program

Rapid City Pennington County Jail.
Rapid City Pennington County Jail.(RCPD)
Published: May. 30, 2023 at 1:43 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - The Pennington County Sheriff’s Office is working to improve public safety and increase accountability for those who victimize others. This week, they launched IGNITE (Individual Growth Naturally and Intentionally Through Education), a nationwide jail initiative from the National Sheriffs’ Association, which improves safety and prepares inmates for release.

The kickoff of Pennington County’s initiative is May 31, 2023, at 10 a.m., at the Public Safety Building. This is NOT a jail release program. It is an initiative that gives individuals the tools they need to improve themselves.

Inmates enrolled in IGNITE spend two hours a day, five days a week in class. They can access courses to earn credits toward a GED, take part in virtual reality to learn a skilled trade job or take enrichment courses in everything from American Sign Language to financial literacy, which will help them hone their interests and work toward employment after graduation.

Since its public launch, the program has enrolled thousands of inmate students who have completed more than 200,000 classroom hours, logged more than 20,000 hours of coursework, and participated in more than 700 standardized tests.

“We have a desperate need for a trained workforce and we have a captive audience that we hope to motivate and educate,” explained Pennington County Sheriff Brian Mueller. “This is a public-private initiative for everyone’s benefit. Hopefully, inmates will do more with their time in jail and return to the community better equipped for success. We ask for business partners and community members to join us in this effort.”

“We are excited that Sheriff Brian Mueller is taking on this important initiative,” said NSA Executive Director Jonathan Thompson. “IGNITE makes it clear that sheriff’s offices across the country are sending individuals in their jails back to their communities more equipped to lead productive lives.”

NSA IGNITE has broken the trend of generational incarceration by focusing on education and rehabilitation, throughout the country.