Inmate Literacy Program Offers A Second Chance

By: Jacki Ochoa Email
By: Jacki Ochoa Email

Jails often provide GED classes, but often many prisoners aren't ready for those classes because they can't read. At the Douglas County Jail, 30 percent of inmates are below a seventh-grade reading level. A literacy class is hoping to change that.

Many of us wish we could erase certain mistakes from our past. “When I was out there on the streets I made a lot of bad choices,” says student Paul Drake.

“And I actually relapsed, got caught up pretty quickly,” says tutor Lisa Schuchard.

“I hung around a lot of positive people so the only person I can blame is myself,” says Drake.

For Drake and Schuchard, their bad choices landed them in the Douglas County Jail. Drake is a literacy service student. “I dropped out of high school my senior year."

Schuchard is his tutor. The class is provided by the Douglas County Jail. Both are in custody and fighting for a better life. “My educational skills were good, but there were areas that I struggled in, in math, and since I’ve gotten better at it," says Drake. "Like I said, the tutors here are excellent."

The literacy class is a new service. “This is really going to open doors and I eventually want to go to college," says Drake.

These folks have been enrolled in various services for months. Their ambitions reach beyond the literacy class. “That's really my long-term goal while I'm here, is to get my GED," says Drake.

“I am extremely grateful for it," says Schuchard. "I praise every day that I have this opportunity to actually better my life."

And beyond jail? “I will feel more mature," says Drake. "I will feel better about myself. I feel like I will walk out of here with more knowledge."

The literacy class is just one service the jail offers. There are GED classes, substance abuse and mental health services, too.

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