The criminal justice system was created to keep checks and balances on the citizens of the country and make sure they are abiding by the laws of the state and country but some feel like it has lost its way. The jaded views of the people come from a long list of judicial rulings that make the people question whether the justice system is here to enact justice or provide control. Some would argue that it's a tool used more for control than anything else.

One of the main purposes and focal points of the judicial system is to help rehabilitate those who have made a mistake. Another thing that people would stand to debate is the effectiveness of the judicial system in rehabilitating those who have landed behind bars, in other facilities, or programs. Many offenders that are locked behind bars are repeat offenders that have committed crimes multiple times because of the lack of rehabilitating programs. The Kalamazoo County Jail is starting a new program aimed at helping inmates gain skills to be successful upon their release.

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The Kalamazoo County Jail wanted to find ways to help the inmates within their facility look at life beyond bars and prepare them to be successful after their release. That's when they joined 17 other jails across the country in the Inmate Growth Naturally and Internationally Through Education program (IGNITE) in partnership with Urban Alliance's Change of Status program.

The IGNITE program is 12 weeks long and helps inmates learn problem solving, positive reinforcement, educational resources, and essential life skills to help with their decision making. The IGNITE program gives them an opportunity to be looked for more than their mistakes and to really change their life around.

The first 12 participants in the Kalamazoo County Jail's iteration of the IGNITE program just graduated and here's a couple of quotes from the experience:

"I'm a college graduate, I am an electrician by trade, and yet here I am in jail, I can't change what happened in the past. I just have to move forward and strive for the better." "The ones you see are those of us that have kind of stuck it out and stuck in there and just graduated. So, it feels awesome." "Before I started this program, I had no confidence in the criminal justice system. I just looked at it as, you know, a system that wants to take your freedom"- Earnest Spencer

After what are seemingly positive results, I would imagine that the IGNITE program is here to stay and there will be more graduating classes to join society in a positive and effective way.

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