NSA I.G.N.I.T.E.

“Eliminating generational incarceration through education, by restoring value, hope, and purpose to our incarcerated population."

WHAT IS I.G.N.I.T.E.?

NSA’s national initiative to help jails replicate a program of the Genesee County (MI) Sheriff’s Office, that offers comprehensive education, job certification, and post-incarceration work opportunities and assistance to incarcerated individuals. The program, started by Sheriff Chris Swanson, is called I.G.N.I.T.E., which is an acronym for Inmate Growth Naturally and Intentionally Through Education. 

WHY I.G.N.I.T.E.?

  • Recidivism rates in the U.S. are at an all-time high
  • Many ex-offenders have limited education and struggle finding employment
  • Punitive nature of criminal justice system takes the focus off of rehabilitation but rehabilitation is what is needed to reduce repeat offenders
  • Mass incarceration has significantly affected the opportunity for employment
  • Employers don’t want to hire someone with a criminal record
    • “Incarceration also breaks down job skills that many may have had.” (Western 2002)
  • Studies have indicated that parolees return to incarceration because of a lack of education, lack of specialized skills, and low family support
  • COVID-19 has slowed the judicial process causing frustration for inmates
  • Jails are the responsibility of local governments — towns and cities – and are a reflection of the community
  • Majority of people who enter detention facilities in the United States are booked into jails. The rate of admissions for the nation's 3,000 local jails is nearly 20 times higher than that of prisons, according to a Vera report.
  • Every year, some local detention facilities register some 12 million admissions — the rough equivalent of the populations of New York and Los Angeles combined. On any given day, there are approximately 30,000 people in jail
  • 90% of inmates return to society, 10% go to prison 
  • 75% of all jail residents are accused of nonviolent offenses, such as traffic violations or public disorder
  • Many are awaiting trial, which can lead to months behind bars prior to any conviction
  • Being in jail causes people to lose their job, benefits, and can create debt.  Many have no way to recover these losses.

HOW DOES I.G.N.I.T.E. BENEFIT JAILS?

  • Reduces inmate on inmate violence
  • Reduces inmate on staff violence
  • Reduces lawsuits
  • Reduces recidivism
  • Improves public trust and community relations
  • Opens up opportunities for funding and tangible donations

WHAT DOES NSA I.G.N.I.T.E. PROVIDE FOR INCARCERATED INDIVIDUALS?

  • Provides education
  • Provides job training and certification
  • Creates purpose
  • Allows incarcerated individuals to set and achieve goals
  • Provides employment opportunities upon reentry
  • Meritocracy provides incentives and rewards for those incarcerated
  • Provides hope, most incarcerated individuals have never been acknowledged for progress

HOW DOES NSA I.G.N.I.T.E. BENEFIT JAILS?

  • Reduces inmate on inmate violence
  • Reduces inmate on staff violence
  • Reduces lawsuits
  • Reduces recidivism
  • Improves public trust and community relations
  • Opens up opportunities for funding and tangible donations

There are currently I.G.N.I.T.E. programs in four states: Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, and North Dakota

Check out current I.G.N.I.T.E. programs:

WHAT IS THE PROCESS TO GET INVOLVED WITH NSA I.G.N.I.T.E.?

Once a site is identified, NSA I.G.N.I.T.E. staff and a peer mentorship team arrive for a site evaluation.  A sample agenda for that day :

  • Meet and Greet/ Roundtable Discussion/IGNITE Model
  • Tour Jail- Identify IGNITE Areas
  • Address Logistics, Opportunities, and Partnerships
  • Sheriffs meet privately
  • Public announcement of Partnership on Social Media Platforms
  • Establish Roll-Out Plan and Launch Date

NSA I.G.N.I.T.E. staff and a peer mentorship team returns to site for launch.  A sample agenda for that day:

  • Launch Day party
  • Local Press conference, press release, ribbon cutting
  • NSA nationally streams press conference, publicizes press release

LEARN MORE ABOUT AVAILABLE GRANT OPPORTUNITIES WITH THE I.G.N.I.T.E. PROGRAM


If you're interested in starting an I.G.N.I.T.E. program in your jail, contact:
Meghan Beal
Project Manager
703.836.7827 ext. 359
mbeal@sheriffs.org