SPECIAL REPORT: Inmates prosper through jail's GED program

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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) -- Adult Education offers services in all 120 counties in Kentucky. By creating partnerships with correctional facilities they offer services include GED prep, college prep, workforce certification and ESL services. Warren County Regional Jail is one example of how inmates are benefiting specifically from the GED program.

"I don't think that jail should hinder anybody from wanting to prosper and move forward with their life after they've been incarcerated," says Montez Hazel, an inmate at Warren County Jail.

Groups of inmates meet one to two times a week to go through study material at their own pace. A teacher from SKYCTC leads the class with the help of an assistant hired by the jail. Many inmates are realizing the importance of taking advantage of this opportunity.

"They want to be better. They want to better themselves, and they want to get out of here and find a job," says Marita Bedwell, Academic Assistant with the Warren County Jail.

"When I'm released, I do want to look into going to college. I've always had the dream of being a dental hygienist," says Hazel.

At the Warren County Jail, inmates fill the room for their weekly GED study session.

"I've been out of school for a long time, so I feel like it's catching me back up," says one inmate.

The program offers a sense of hope for the incarcerated.

"I don't know what I'm gonna major in yet, but I'm going to college," says Cody Alfaro, an inmate in the GED program.

By obtaining a GED in jail, inmates receive incentives like time off their sentence, but for some, that's the least of their worries.

"I ain't even worried about the three months, I just wanted to come here and better myself and show my mom and dad that I could do it," says Alfaro.

Dustin talks to me with confidence as he prepares to take the big test the following day.

"Hopefully they'll give me some packets to take back down there with me and I'll study as hard as I can all night...and be ready for tomorrow," says Alfaro. "Get up, drink a cup of coffee, come in here and ace this GED test."

Hazel is also filled with gratitude and encouragement.

"Having a GED will open so many more doors for me," says Hazel.

For Hazel, trying to obtain a GED has been a long process.

"Before becoming incarcerated. I was working in a program called the Second Chance program for a great high school to get my diploma. Unfortunately, I had to come and sign my plea and you know turn myself into jail."

In addition to a diploma, the program offers an opportunity for betterment.

"They've got a lot to prove to society when they get released and this is one of those things that just puts another feather in their cap that shows that they're trying to turn a corner," says Brian Becker, Director of Adult Education at SKYCTC.

The numbers indicate that many are taking advantage of that opportunity.

"We don't push these programs on the inmates. It's solely a personal choice to participate, so the fact that we have a list for some of these classes...a waiting list ...is a good thing," says Jailer Stephen Harmon.

However, these inmates say the couldn't do it by themselves.

"They all come in in different levels so we kinda help get everyone situated and get them going on what they're working on," says Bedwell.

"Without them two, I mean it would be hard because they've been so helpful during the whole process," says Hazel.

Now, Montez is all smiles as he' waited for the perfect time to deliver this news to a certain someone.

"I did it. I got my GED, mom. I hope you're proud. Thank you for your help and your motivation. I love you."

As part of their corrections program, a SKYCTC teacher comes in to prepare the inmates for the GED test, if your organization is interested in volunteering at the jail contact Doug Miles with the Warren County Jail.



 
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