National Park College (NPC) Adult Education Center hosted its third graduation at the Garland County Detention Center (GCDC) Tuesday where six new graduates earned their GED® diploma.
The Adult Education Center began offering education programs in the detention center and the Garland County District Courts last July. Since then, they have helped more than 500 detention center students improve their basic education skills, including 18 students who earned a GED® diploma and 130 students who earned a WAGE™ certificate.
The partnership with the Garland County Detention Center was created to provide education and workplace training to inmates with the goal of reducing recidivism. NPC provides basic education to prepare the inmates to earn their GED®, and workplace training through the Workforce Alliance for Growth in the Economy (WAGE™) program. Inmates who do not yet have a diploma are placed in classes that include reading, math, language, social studies, and science to build the skills needed to pass the GED® exam and earn an Arkansas high school diploma. Inmates who already have a diploma may join WAGE™ workplace skills classes to gain computer skills, employment skills, create a resume, and build other skills needed to obtain and keep gainful employment. Inmates earning WAGE™ certificates or GED® diplomas can qualify for a reduction in their sentences.
Instructor, Chris Brakebill said, “It has been very exciting to be a part of making history here in Garland County and in Arkansas. I consider it a blessing to be able to work in the Garland County Detention Center and help the inmates better their futures. In the year that we have been operating inside the detention center, I have already seen many success stories emerge as a result of the partnership between the NPC Adult Education and the Garland County Detention Center. I look forward to many more success stories in the future.”
GCDC Program Director, Lt. Belinda Cosgrove said, “There is clear evidence that providing inmates educational programs helps keep them from returning to jail and improves future job prospects. Our partnership with NPC is changing lives and has a positive measurable impact on our community.”
The Adult Education Center also partners with the Garland County District Court to provide an Alternatives to Incarceration program. Through the agreement, district court judges can require qualified offenders to earn WAGE™ certificates and/or an Arkansas High School Diploma (GED®). The partnership allows qualifying non-violent offenders to work toward earning a high school diploma or gain workplace skills by earning WAGE™ certificates as part of their sentence. The program is also aimed at reducing recidivism and saving taxpayer dollars that would otherwise be spent on housing offenders in the Garland County Detention Center. Since July 2015, the center has helped 95 District Court referrals build workplace skills, earn WAGE™ certificates or Arkansas High School diplomas.
The NPC Adult Education Center has 35 full-time and part-time staff members at five locations in Garland County, including the main NPC campus, HSSD Jones Administration Building, Grand Avenue, ACTI, and the Garland County Detention Center. The center has served over 2,000 students this fiscal year, including 159 English as a second language (ESL) learners. Director of Adult Education, Bill Ritter said, “the center is dedicated to building local partnerships and reaching students wherever they may be, at times that are convenient for them.” Adult Education programs are available to the community at no cost. For more information, contact 501-760-4335.