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Education Gives Second Chances at Iowa Women's Prison

A computer lab at ICIW's Mitchellville facility is named after DMACC Emeritus Admininstrator Mary Chapman (left). (DMACC)
A computer lab at ICIW's Mitchellville facility is named after DMACC Emeritus Admininstrator Mary Chapman (left). (DMACC)
April 11, 2016

DES MOINES, Iowa - The women incarcerated at the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women have a new resource to help better themselves once they're outside the prison walls.

A new computer lab at the Mitchellville facility gives an opportunity for women to learn technical skills they need for class work, research and resume development.

It is named after Mary Chapman an emeritus administrator at Des Moines Area Community College, helped develop life-skills and educational programming for women at ICIW.

Chapman says she's honored and proud to have played a role in helping women advance their life goals.

"I will have this ongoing connection to the success that continues to happen there at ICIW," says Chapman. "With educating women to be better prepared and returning to their community with those skills that they need to be successful."

Chapman explains when it comes to second chances, education is key, especially skill-specific training. It helps former offenders get jobs that, in turn, help them contribute to their communities as well as their families.

Associate Warden of Treatment at ICIW Paul Rode explains rehabilitation, education and work-skill development reduces recidivism. And he says Chapman has been instrumental in providing those opportunities.

"Mary's always been a good partner and has always had a special interest in making sure key services are provided for female offenders," Rode says. "She always believed that female offenders could turn their lives around, and believed that through educational services they could do that. And we believe that, too."

Chapman adds she's seen how education is empowering women at ICIW to take their future into their own hands so they don't end up back behind bars.

"The success with the project was the women themselves investing in their own success and being cheered on by the other women, and becoming mentors other women of wanting to do better, wanting to complete their education," she says.

Iowa's recidivism rate of 29 percent is the sixth-best in the country. For women, it is 22 percent.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IA