The Ulster County Sheriff’s Office and Sheriff Juan Figueroa announced last Friday they will be starting a new jail program from the National Sheriffs’ Association I.G.N.I.T.E. (Individual Growth Naturally and Intentionally Through Education). The program is a nation-wide jail initiative that prepares incarcerated individuals for reintegrating back to society after incarceration and makes jails safer.
I.G.N.I.T.E. represents a significant step forward in the Ulster County Sheriff’s Office commitment to promoting rehabilitation and reducing recidivism among incarcerated individuals. The program aims to promote positive change within the jail, setting inmates on a path toward a more productive and law-abiding future, which makes the community safer. This initiative is designed to provide incarcerated individuals in the Ulster County Jail with the skills, knowledge, and support needed to foster personal growth, rehabilitation, and successful reintegration into society.
Sheriff Juan Figueroa emphasized the significance of the I.G.N.I.T.E. program, saying, “The Ulster County Sheriff’s Office has been and continues to be at the forefront of police reform by reimagining policing and corrections through new programs to better serve our communities. Together, with engagement from our community partners, our corrections division will give incarcerated individuals the resources and opportunity for successful rehabilitation so they can reintegrate into back into society and thrive. Together we can change the culture of incarceration within our jail and restore value, hope, and purpose to those incarcerated. We hope to reduce recidivism and end generational incarceration in Ulster County.”
“The I.G.N.I.T.E. initiative represents a significant stride for Ulster County to address recidivism and provide incarcerated individuals with meaningful opportunities for growth and development,” said Ulster County Executive Jen Metzger. “I want to thank Sheriff Juan Figueroa for his efforts to foster a truly rehabilitative environment, and I look forward to our continued work together on such programs as Corrections to Careers and other initiatives to create productive pathways for people upon their release.”
Individuals enrolled in I.G.N.I.T.E. will 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.
The program started in Genesee County, Michigan, under the leadership of Sheriff Chris Swanson. Since its public launch, the program has enrolled thousands of 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 are excited Sheriff Figueroa is taking on this important initiative,” said National Sheriff’s Association Executive Director Jonathan Thompson. “IGNITE makes it clear that sheriffs’ offices across the country are sending individuals in their jails back to their communities more equipped to lead productive lives.”