Inmates Offered Educational Programs
Inmates at Collin County Detention Facility (CCDF) are able to earn their General Equivalency Diploma (GED) through a program provided by Collin County Sheriff’s Office. Jamie Taylor, Inmate Program Coordinator, explains the program, “The GED is offered to male and female inmates. We have a greater participation of male inmates than female. The males attend class for two hours a day/two days a week. The females attend two hours a day/one day a week. The program is a computer based self-paced study. Volunteers monitor the student process in the program and conduct tutoring in needed areas. We currently have space for 14 inmates to be in class at a time.”
Out of the many programs offered to inmates, the GED program is not one of the most popular choices. Taylor said, “Obtaining a GED is not an easy task for most of our inmate population. The majority dropped out of school in the 9th or 10th grade and have been out of school for several years prior to enrolling in the class. It takes a lot of effort on the part of the inmate and requires a lot of discipline and determination. We see a great change in the confidence level of a person once they earn their GED. We are proud to be a Pearson Vue-Authorized Test Center and certified test administrators come to our facility to conduct the test for inmates.” The amount of GEDs earned at Collin County Detention Center are as follows: in 2015, 19 GEDs were earned; in 2016, 15 GEDs were earned; in 2017, 30 GEDs were earned and there are 10 inmates who have earned their GED thus far in 2018.
Additional programs offered to inmates are directed towards addiction recovery, life skills, negative behavior intervention and corrective thinking. Taylor said the most attended programs are the religious services and the faith-based recovery and anger management programs. The program sessions are usually one time a week. The program time averages one hour and 15 minutes per session. Program size is dependent on several factors and range from 10-25 inmates per session. The average attendance in programs is approximately 100 inmates per day. Males and females do not attend programs together.
Some of the topics covered in classes are: substance abuse awareness, anger management, conflict resolution, time and money management, batterer intervention, corrective thinking, boundaries, family dynamics, parenting, relationships, communication, basic life skills, goal setting
Taylor said, “Inmates are offered all programs free of charge including the testing fees for the GED exam. The programs are funded through inmate commissary funds and are not an additional cost to the county.”
Regarding how this program benefits inmates, inmates’ families and society, Taylor said, “Inmates are offered a chance to develop skills, coping mechanisms and abilities to help them make better choices upon release. The goal of the programs department is to utilize the time the inmates are in custody in hopes to reduce recidivism and assist more people in becoming productive members of society rather than continuing the revolving door of crime and incarceration.”
Currently the CCDF has more volunteers and community interest than they have the capacity to utilize. They have 250 active volunteers who offer the programs to the inmates. They offer a volunteer orientation and training in the first quarter of each year. They accept applications from interested volunteers October-January each year.