(AP) - Fifteen Michigan inmates have received associate's degrees from Calvin College.
The prisoners who graduated May 21 are the first in the Calvin Prison Initiative program to earn a degree. The program, which launched in 2016, provides up to 20 inmates annually with the opportunity to pursue a bachelor's degree in ministry leadership.
The program enrolls 55 students. Inmates from any of the men's prisons in the Michigan Department of Corrections system can apply. Each August, about 20 admitted students are transferred to Richard A. Handlon Correctional Facility in Ionia.
The goal of the program, funded through private money, is to educate inmates and inspire change to prison culture.
Shawn England, a student inmate facing life without parole for first-degree murder, says the program has given him something to live for.