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Adult education for jail inmates set

Updated: June 23, 2014 3:34PM



VALPARAISO — An adult education program for inmates at the Porter County Jail to earn their high school equivalency diplomas is in its genesis, and the Porter County Community Foundation and the Porter County Sheriff’s Department have agreed to fund the program this year.

Funding for next year will come from the Board of Commissioners and the sheriff’s department.

“It would be a cost savings over time. The brass ring we look for is reducing recidivism,” Sheriff David Lain told commissioners Tuesday. “It’s all about breaking that cycle of coming back.”

Most of the time, people are incarcerated because of a lack of education, said Linda Woloshansky, president and chief executive officer of the Center of Workforce Innovations, adding Lain and community members asked her to start the program at the jail.

A pilot program with six inmates began about two weeks ago.

“We prefer folks who are closer to achieving their GED because they have a better chance of leaving the system and finding employment,” she said.

Her agency kicked in $3,000 or $4,000 from donations to get the program going. The cost for the rest of the year is about $17,000, which will be split and covered by the sheriff’s department and the community foundation.

The program will assist 25 to 30 inmates, with a teacher and a teacher’s aide, with instruction two or three days a week for 48 weeks. Commissioners and the sheriff’s department will handle the cost for next year, at $27,500.

“I’m confident we can cover half of the costs of the pilot year,” Lain said.

If he can’t find the money in his budget for next year, he said, it could come out of commissary funds; Woloshansky said a similar program at the Pulaski County Jail in Winamac is funded through the commissary.

The jail last had such a program in 2010 but it ended with funding cuts.

Woloshansky said her agency could put inmates in touch with Work One for vocational training after they achieve their diploma and are out of jail.

In other business, highway supervisor Al Hoagland is retiring on Aug. 14 after 341/2 years with the department, the last 11 as supervisor. He started with the department as a truck driver.

Changes in the state pension program for public employees made retiring now most advantageous, he said.

“The opportunity existed and things fell in place,” he said, adding he doesn’t have any plans yet for after he retires.

He expects assistant highway supervisor David James will serve as interim supervisor until commissioners find a replacement.



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