OUACHITA PARISH, LA (09/18/19)–The Ouachita Parish Correctional Center is three months in to a new program that could help inmates break the cycle of returning to a life of crime. The Louisiana Department of Corrections is bringing in teachers for an education program.This allows prisoners to change their life now and hopefully their future once they have their freedom back.
Jail isn’t just for metal bars and handcuffs. Now, inmates can look forward to receiving a foundation in education.
“Basically now a days you cant get a regular job unless you have your high school diploma,” said Amber Bowlen, Corporal at Ouachita Parish Correctional Center.
HiSET is a program that allows inmates to learn the core subjects and get a high school diploma in 3 to 6 months. The Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office believes this will help combat falling back into crime, and ultimately becoming a productive member of society-once released.
“You can see it in their face when they graduate, when they are participating, or when they see others graduate. They want it so bad and it just gives them that boost of confidence,” said Bowlen.
The education program is 100 percent optional. Currently there are 25 students who are hungry to learn.
“We just had recently 9 graduates so we are very excited about that, that was our first one,” said Bowlen.
Many who have already graduated from the program go on to study for a college degree and some even volunteer as a class tutor for those who are still learning. According to officials, when employers see a convict made an effort to get degrees, they have a high chance of getting hired. This program is no cost to tax payers as it’s funded by the sheriff’s office and police jury.
“Them to participate in class is no charge, their testing fees are about 75 dollars and of course we pay their testing fees for them,” said bowlen.
Though this program may seem small to others, this allows inmates to have a secure future despite their wrap sheet. In the future, the Sheriff’s office hopes to bring in vocation programs.