Back to Top

Sunday, March 25, 2018

 

 Better Choices

 

 

 

One of the things I wanted to do when I became Sheriff was to implement a program for inmates to possibly break the cycle of recidivism. From studies, I learned that many inmates don’t have a high school diploma and face extreme difficulty when seeking higher paying jobs. This contributes to inmates repeatedly offending. Furthermore, I knew that I wanted to keep the inmates busy while in jail. The prison system offers a GED program, but many inmates are not going to prison due to sentencing guidelines.

To get started, I contacted a local GED teacher who put me in contact with Dr. Terri Dunn with ESJC. They agreed to fund a GED program at the Geneva County Jail and provided me with a great caring teacher from Geneva County, Mrs. Sharon Williams. We converted the old law library into a classroom and got started. Each inmate must fill out an application and be approved to attend, much like the road crew. Our females and males are not allowed to attend together, but all are given an opportunity to attend and equal time. Importantly, no county funds are used for this program. It is paid through a grant, and funds used by inmates for testing is donated. Fifteen inmates have completed the GED course and passed the test to obtain their GED. Additionally, we currently have four inmates that are ready to take the test. Some inmates get close to finishing but are released before doing so; however, we hope they will finish on their own. Some do, some don’t, but unfortunately, and I regret to say this, several of them end up returning to the jail.

Aside from helping inmates obtain a GED, Mrs. Williams can assist them in getting an Alabama Certified Worker Certificate. She also works with them on life skills which include budgeting, balancing a checkbook, etc. Some of the inmates, after obtaining their GED, work on advanced studies toward college placement. We currently have one inmate who has passed his college entry exam and been accepted to a local college. He will begin upon his release.

 Some may say it is a waste of time, but I believe everyone deserves a chance. I tell them all the time that the only difference between an inmate and myself is a choice, and it’s up to the inmate to change that and start making better choices. Maybe a GED certificate that they can put down on an application in the real world will be the first of many better choices to come.

 

Thank you for reading and have the best Sunday,

Tony


Paid for by Tony Helms
Powered by CampaignPartner.com - Political Websites