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Funding short for Indianapolis-area jail literacy program

February 16, 2015

A program that provides literacy instruction to inmates in Indianapolis-area jails is having funding problems and organizers of the nonprofit Indy Reads have said its future is uncertain.

Indy Reads had to eliminate classes at Marion County Jail I in November when grant money ended and unless new funding can be secured the program could end by this summer, The Indianapolis Star reported. In the meantime Indy Reads has been shifting money from other programming to keep the jail classes. The program costs about $75,000 a year.

Nearly 450 prisoners have been part of the program. Less than 20 percent of literacy program students were rearrested within six months of release, Indy Reads executive director Travis DiNicola said. That's compared to a 40 percent re-arrest rate for other inmates from Marion County who are released from state prisons, according to the Indiana Department of Corrections.

"These are adults who are the most at risk of any adults," DiNicola said. "You think if they could just get a handle on their education and get out of this cycle, that's where you see an immediate difference."

Lucea Sheehan oversees the program, which she said offers inmates a chance to move forward.

"When they get out they can get a better job, they make better money, they can provide for their families," she said.

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