Daniel Geiter spent much of his young adult years in and out of correctional facilities in and around Chicago. Between his adolescent years and the age of 25, Geiter estimates that he was incarcerated in excess of 20 times.
It was during one of these prison stays that Geiter concluded that things needed to change.
“It was 1998. It’s like 120 degrees,” he recalls. “I’m in Vienna Correctional Center and the walls are sweating literally and I woke up and I looked at that room and I said, ‘Lord if I ever get out of here, I’ll never come back.'”
Geiter has kept his promise. In the years since his final release, he has earned a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, and, earlier this year, a doctorate in education from Benedictine University.
“The only thing that saves me from going back [to prison] every day is education,” Geitner says.
It is this belief that education is key to reducing incarceration that has inspired Geiter to create and open a not-for-profit community college in a warehouse on the south side of Chicago.
Ward College, named after the husband and wife philanthropists that are helping to fund the endeavor, will seek to serve those who have paid their debt to society through incarceration and want to make a difference upon release.
“Forty percent of our students will be former offenders or current offenders from either Cook County or Illinois Department of Corrections,” Geiter tells WLS-TV in Chicago.
Education does indeed play a large role in keeping recidivism rates low. Several studies reveal that in-prison training and education is one of the best ways to prevent prisoners from being re-arrested. By opening the door to more varied employment opportunities, these men and women are more likely to find meaningful and lasting work that will in turn make them more self-reliant and less tempted to return to other, less legal forms of support.
The Second Prison Project seeks to remove barriers for those with criminal records, and to help them to become contributors to their communities. To learn more about the Second Prison Project and how you can be a part of ending the “second prison” which keeps men and women from becoming the neighbors and citizens they want to be, visit https://secondprison.org/.