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Local woman shares prison experience and how it pushed her to pursue a college degree

KTVZ News Team


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    HARTFORD, Connecticut (WFSB) — The United States has one of the highest recidivism rates in the world.

Some statistics show as many as two out of three former inmates will be re-arrested within three years of their release.

One local woman went to prison not once, but twice. Now she’s sharing her success through education.

Marisol Garcia said there’s nothing worse than when the Dept. of Corrections minimizes you to a number. She took some time to share her story about the time she spent at York Correctional Institution.

She first went to prison for larceny and forgery from 2006-2010.

But in 2015, she violated her probation, and was sentenced a second time.

“For years, they refuse to call you by your name,” she said.

It was after her second incarceration that Marisol said she dedicated herself to getting a college degree. She began her coursework in prison through Trinity College.

“I’m not going back for a third time,” she said.

She got out in 2019, but Marisol said even college classes under her belt couldn’t keep that inmate number from following her.

“The first job I could get was working at a Burger King. Working third shift at a Burger King, getting sexually harassed by the manage,” she explained.

But then, she was accepted into Trinity College’s Individualized Degree Program.

She’s studying public policy and law, hoping to change a system that makes it so difficult for former inmates to stay out of trouble.

“I think it’s better to have a face of someone who has gone through the experience,” she said.

Trinity faculty and employees, who run and promote the school’s Prison Education Program, say Marisol is just one example of success that starts behind bars.

“They have a real depth of curiosity and some widely ranging questions and they challenge us as faculty,” said Sheila Fisher, co-director of Trinity College’s Prison Education Program.

“It’s really about changing how we view criminal justice and the corrections system,” said Democratic State Rep. Jason Rojas, who is also a Trinity College employee.

“I took two classes in the summer, five this semester, and five next semester,” Garcia said.

After 15 years spent either locked up or under supervision, she’s set to finish her degree at Trinity in less than two.

She’ll never forget the number that was next to her name as an inmate for so long.

“That number is what pushed me to get to where I’m at today,” Garcia said.

But she’s choosing to focus on the new one, Marisol Garcia, class of 2022.

“It reminds you of where you’ve come from and the path that you traveled to get there,” she said.

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