Securus Technologies' Lantern education program in partnership with Ashland University reaches record enrollment in Spring 2020


Lantern aids hundreds of incarcerated students displaced with face-to-face instruction during COVID-19.

Ashland University Lantern graduate Joseph Branch.
Ashland University Lantern graduate Joseph Branch. (Photo/Securus Technologies)

DALLAS — Securus Technologies is proud to announce that its partnership with Ashland University reached new heights for student enrollment with the highest ever numbers in the Lantern education program this spring with a 37% increase from Fall 2019 to Spring 2020. The drastic increase resulted from the university and its correctional partners, adding 15 facilities to the Lantern program. Fall enrollment included 1,837 students and spring included 2,510.

Additionally, due to COVID-19, Ohio prisons stopped instructors from entering facilities. Then, several hundred incarcerated students that were originally being taught face-to-face by Ashland University instructors were moved to Securus’ Lantern to be educated remotely instead. Meanwhile, Securus continues to be approached by agencies in need of Lantern education, due to the challenge of not being able to continue in-person instruction because of the risks posed by COVID-19.

“I am amazingly pleased. This is a happy testimony to our collaboration with correctional partners and our technology partner, Securus,” stated Vice President for Correctional Education and Innovation Todd Marshall, Ph.D., of Ashland University. “As part of our continued growth and planning process, we continue to add more sites and facilities. We also expect to expand in the fall.” 

Presently Lantern offers educational programs to seven correctional agencies and fifty facilities. Additionally, there are nearly seventy courses offered to help incarcerated individuals prepare for a successful reintegration into society.

Additional Lantern metrics include:

  • Lantern students since inception: 158,031
  • Lantern course enrollments made since inception: 1,093,026
  • 72% pursue a Bachelor’s degree
  • 28% pursue an Associate’s degree

“Lantern reduces recidivism and gives incarcerated individuals’ hope. Several have been in and out of prison and are looking for a way to set a new direction on life,” Dr. Marshall added.

According to Dr. Marshall, new students consider post-secondary education to be critical. Right now, the bachelor of arts in communications is the largest program. The curriculum covers skills to succeed in the workplace.

“I definitely feel Lantern was a benefit to help me enter the workforce. People have a stigma of someone being a convicted felon. With Lantern, I have something to back my skills, and feel confident about job interviews,” said Joseph Branch, a former incarcerated individual at Elayn Hunt Correctional Center located in St. Gabriel, Louisiana. He graduated with a bachelor of communications.

“The Lantern communications program also helps with social interactions which helps me with relationships, now that I am released,” Branch added.

Other former incarcerated students from Elayn Hunt Correctional Center also shared their experiences with the Lantern program.

 “The Lantern program gives you professors that inspire you and give you advice. That’s what is missing in the lives in a lot of these guys. But with the tablets, they’re getting the feedback. They’re bragging, showing off the positive input they get from professors. They never took school seriously before, but now for the first time in their lives, they do,” stated B. Castro.

Castro goes on to explain that a big factor in his career was learning to use computers in the workforce. He credits Lantern for helping him with that as well as the life skills program.

“I thought I knew everything, but actually, I had to set my goals. It was then that I gained a sense of accomplishment, every semester, with Lantern,” Castro added.

His final semester, he was determined to finish by being a college graduate and received his associate’s degree in general studies.

For former incarcerated individual J. Ware, his main focus on Lantern, was to get training on computers and the internet, so that he would be well prepared upon release. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in communications with a minor in business administration.

“Lantern made me familiar with computer systems. It gave the ability to do research and learn about technology and build resumes,” Ware stated.

“The Lantern program gave me opportunities I never thought were possible. The program helped me learn what was going on in the real world and get the college experience,” Ware concluded. “It’s good for people to get ahead and learn about technology. Everyone who’s in the program is going be thankful, once they get out of prison.”

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