New Program Helps Inmates Take Next Steps
(OnFocus) The Wood County Sheriff’s Department presented eight inmates with a Certificate of Achievement on May 26 for the successful completion of a Career Development course through Mid-State Technical College.
The Wood County Jail started offering the course in January 2020 as well as the opportunity to earn a GED. Thirty-nine inmates participated in the Mid-State Technical College program. Those who did not complete the course are able to continue in the fall, or if they were released from custody, to finish at any Mid-State campus.
“We are all very proud of their accomplishment and are excited to continue the partnership with Mid-State Technical College,” said Melissa Saeger, Jail Lieutenant.
The completed course provides one college credit if any decide to continue their education as a student at Mid-State. “It motivates me to do better in life and gives me the confidence to take a college class to help me get a lifelong career,” said Corday Alarie, who completed the program.
“It means another step in the right direction,” said Ashley Stone, participant. “Learning a lot about different careers and myself helped greatly to figure out where I want to go next after release.”
Inmates worked hard to finish up the course during challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We had to adapt to a new way of teaching and learning and temporarily stop the GED course. Instead of having the Mid-State instructors come into our facility to conduct classes, we had to use virtual learning and come up with a new procedure,” Saeger said. “This still allowed the inmates in the Wood County Jail the ability to participate and learn new skills that will help them when they are released from custody and if they decide to continue their education.”
“Due to COVID-19 I had to do it on my own, but I kept pushing through and made it,” said Daniel Rogers. “I hope my kids can see how important not giving up is, no matter where you are.”
“It is a very good program and I believe it will help people better themselves and further their education, and find a job they will enjoy,” said Cody Schladweiler.
The course was taught by Basic Education Instructor Trish Zdroi. In the future, Wood County Jail will continue to invest in programming for inmates.
“We have great local opportunities to collaborate with stakeholders willing to make a difference in people’s lives,” said Sheriff Shawn Becker. “This was challenging the last couple of months due to COVID-19, but Corrections Staff and Instructor Zdroik made it work, especially Jail Lieutenant Melissa Saeger who assisted running the program in our jail. The eight inmates that participated in the program with MSTC now have a foundation build upon if they want to continue their education, it’s just blocks away.”
It’s too soon to tell what success will come from the new inmate programming, but the sheriff’s department hopes to see results in the near future.
“As Sheriff I’m proud of the community partnerships we have been establishing with our jail over the past year,” Becker said. “We are hoping to affect the recidivism rate here in Wood County. We have inmates currently in custody looking to better themselves. Our new programs give them the opportunity to put to use what they have learned once they are released. This is a great investment for our community. ”
Inmates who received GPS credit completed the competencies listed below. Others who participated may not have completed all competencies, but were able to learn new skills to assist them in the future.
(1) Understand the career and personal development process.
(2) Identify and express personal strengths, natural talents, personality traits, and value systems.
(3) Adopt and practice strategies for life-long learning, critical and creative thinking, and empowerment mindset.
(4) Describe Mid-State, Community-based, and Job Center resources & policies that will aid in skills development.
(5) Investigate interpersonal attributes and communication strategies for student success and career promotion.
(6) Engage in planning for personal wellness management, including time, financial, SMART goal setting, and stress management.
(7) Construct academic plan and pathways for continued skills building.