Since 1973 the Dallas County Sheriff's Department (SD), established a partnership with El Centro College (ECC) to offer classes to inmates at the Dallas County Jails. Throughout the contract years, classes have included a range of study including art, math, office technology, social sciences, developmental studies, keyboarding, computer sciences, and human development. Classes are offered to inmates who voluntarily request to enroll. Approximately 12.5% of the total jail population enroll in ECC's college credit courses.
The SD maintains responsibility for the budget, which pays for students' tuition. El Centro administers the program, provides the instructors, and develops the coursework.
Starting in 1996, ECC opened a computer lab at the Lew Sterrett North Tower to offer computer science and office technology classes for inmates. During that time older model computers (80/88s) were gathered from excess equipment for Jail Program use. As the success of the program has grown, the Jail Education Program has been able to slowly upgrade to Intel Pentium 4 computers through donations and excess equipment acquired throughout the Dallas County Community College District. The program success has lead to the opening of a print shop in the North Tower, expanded to 7 computer labs with approximately 180 computers.
The goal of the Jail Education Program is to provide opportunities for inmates to begin educational rehabilitation during incarceration. Education, drug treatment, and employment are the key factors that influence recidivism rates, whether or not an inmate will return to incarceration. Development of computer skills helps the students be prepared to enter the workforce.
Journal of Correctional Education, 9/1992
"...Gaither conducted an in-house evaluation of Texas Department of Corrections college programs and concluded: 'participation in the junior college program definitely results in lower recidivism rates'."
and concluded: 'participation in the junior college program definitely results in lower recidivism rates'."
Corrections Today, 2/1/93
...40% of inmates do not have a consistent employment history before incarceration..."
... inmates need to learn job skills and develop thinking strategies that will help them avoid committing crimes. crimes.
Between 1985 and 2000, 71% new jobs developed will require skills associated with post-high school preparation..."
Journal of Correctional Education, 2004
"...Since 1990, the literature has shown that prisoners who attend educational programs while they are incarcerated are less likely to return to prison following their release."