WEBSTER COUNTY, Ky. (3/13/13) - Thanks to cooperation between the Webster County Detention Center and the Webster County Adult Learning Center, six inmates have recently earned their GEDs. They are the latest of 50 inmates who have completed the program and passed the GED exam since 2007.
“I’m proud of this program,” said Webster County Jailer Terry Elder. He added that some inmates are going to end up back in jail, but with the right help, others can turn their lives around.
“Inmates who earn their GED are 80 percent less likely to return to jail,” said Mary Steeley with Webster County Adult Education. She is one of three instructors with the program. “They also earn, on average, about $9,500 more per year.”
Webster County has teamed with the Hopkins County and Muhlenberg County Detention Centers to give the test. Before a test can be given, there must be ten people signed up to take it. None of the three jails ever had enough at once, so they joined forces, transporting all test takers to Hopkins County every other month.
“Normally we just send one or two,” Steeley said. “This time we had six. One hundred percent passed.”
“The guys like to do it because it's getting them an education,” Elder said. “It also gets them 90 days off of their sentence.”
Any inmate can apply, but not everyone will be excepted.
“We must consider current class size and what level they’re at,” said Steeley. “If they come in and only have a second grade education they’re going to need a lot more work than someone who was in twelfth grade and just didn’t finish. We also look at the charges against them and recommendations from the staff.”
The instructors spend one day a week at the detention center and an afternoon at the Restricted Custody Center (RCC), where the trustees are housed. Steeley, Diane Pruitt and Julie Fulks rotate instruction at that facility.
The program is grant funded, and since it began they have not been turned down for the money yet.
“We got a letter from a former inmate recently,” Steeley said. “He wrote ‘People look up to me now! I appreciate your patience. Thanks for helping me. I will never forget you!’”
That letter wasn’t all the praise received by the instructors. Some of the recent graduates wanted to thank them as well.
“I just want to thank Mary and Diane for putting up with me,” said Joseph Meckisis.
“I’m not a state inmate,” said Roman Lewis III. “They were a great help calling my other county and getting them to help me. They did a lot to help me get my GED.”
“Both teachers were great helpers,” said Marcus Calhoun.
J-E News Editor
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