On Thursday, January 4, 2024, the National Institute of Corrections (NIC) co-sponsored the 2024 American Correctional Association (ACA) Education in Corrections Symposium during the annual ACA Winter Conference in National Harbor, MD. It was the first education symposium in ACA’s history and consisted of a full day of guest speakers and paneled discussions focused on enhancing educational opportunities for incarcerated adults.
NIC Director (A) Holly Busby joined ACA Executive Director Robert Green and Bureau of Justice Assistance Director Karhlton Moore in providing remarks. Busby noted and applauded the expansion of educational opportunities now available for many incarcerated adults. U.S Department of Education (DOE) Secretary Dr. Miguel Cardona provided the event’s keynote address. A session titled “What Corrections Should Know About Federal Resources for Pell Reinstatement” was hosted by Office of Justice Programs Assistant Attorney General Amy Solomon and DOE Assistant Secretary Amy Loyd.
Symposium sessions covered a wide range of topics, including ones on how to partner with legislators and other decisionmakers to access funding and other resources to support correctional education programs. Presenters of the session titled “How to Educate Your Legislature on Education in Corrections” encouraged attendees to think about looking beyond requests for funding when reaching out for assistance. Technology and equipment needs as well as amendments to laws can serve students and provide benefits to staff. Attendees were also advised to think about what their priorities are before meeting with decision makers. Information should be prepared in advance to provide details about what a program lacks when asked.
Other sessions explored alternatives to education, noting that adults with a large number of high school credits may find it better or faster to graduate via non-General Education Development programs. Technical education and professional certification programs that incorporated emerging technologies, such as virtual reality for automotive technician training, were also highlighted.