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A Team Approach to Adult Inmate Education in Sheboygan County
Date: July 31, 2009 08:46PM

A Team Approach to Adult Inmate Education in Sheboygan (Wisconsin) County

With support from a highly competitive Adult Education & Family Literacy Act grant, Lakeshore Technical College (LTC) partners with Sheboygan County Sheriff’s Department to provide on-site basic education services for adults incarcerated in the Sheboygan County Detention Center (SCDC). These services include General Educational Development Certificate/High School Equivalency Diploma, basic skills review, college preparation, and employment preparation. LTC provides a full-time instructor and equips the SCDC classroom with textbooks, office supplies, and computers. LTC and Sheboygan County share in the expenses to supply a part-time Instructional Assistant. Instructional services are provided year round, generally four afternoons and two evenings per week. Participation in the adult basic/secondary education program is voluntary and is considered a privilege. Each inmate participating sets individualized education and employment goals at registration and regularly evaluates progress towards those goals with the help of the instructor.

LTC provides fundamental literacy programming in the areas of reading, vocabulary, career exploration, employability, mathematics, written and verbal communication, computers, civics, health, parenting, and personal finances for a very diverse inmate population, diverse as per: age, ethnicity, race, physical and cognitive ability, medical condition, criminal record, socioeconomic status and background, employment status and history, educational level, religion, alcohol/drug use, sexual orientation, custody level, escape risk, danger risk, and expected length of stay.

In an effort to meet the challenges posed by a wide range of learning needs, LTC and SCDC partner with a variety of community agencies including but not limited to: the Literacy Council, Family Resource Centers of Sheboygan County; Consumer Credit Counseling Services, Family Service Association; Friends of the Mead Public Library; Eastern Shores Library System; Sheboygan County Job Center; Sheboygan Area School District; Good News Jail & Prison Ministry; and the LTC Foundation. Literacy volunteers, certified credit & housing counselors, and guest speakers encourage cooperation between on- and off-site services and offer familiar reference points to inmates post-release, increasing the potential for successful reentry.

Length of participation in LTC’s Sheboygan County Incarcerated Project is based on length of stay and ranges from less than one week to over a year, with a two to five month average. As long as behavior meets the classroom conduct code and the detention center/jail rules and the inmate is making progress toward identified goals, the recognized duration of programming for said inmate is from point of registration to release or transfer. However, LTC Instructor Sharon Abel has made it a practice to follow up with her former students and remain an approachable resource for inmates/students post-release. She can be reached by e-mail at sharon.abel@gotoltc.edu or voice mail at 920.693.1747.

by: Sharon Abel, Lakeshore Technical College

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