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House of Correction Inmate Programs

GED prep class

Men and women incarcerated at the House of Correction (HOC) are constantly returning to communities throughout New England. Extensive rehabilitative efforts prepare thousands of offenders annually to become more productive and law abiding upon release.

The average length of a male inmate’s sentence is 14 months and 10 months for a female inmate. Offenders are provided opportunities to participate in many rehabilitative programs offered at the HOC. These programs are designed to emphasize inmate accountability and responsibility. They include, 90-day substance abuse rehabilitation, anger management classes, vocational training, educational courses, AIDS education, and parenting skills.

Each year, more than 4000 inmates are assessed by the HOC education department to determine, in part, if they must attend mandatory literacy courses in accordance with the Literacy Law, Chapter 452. Comprehensive education programs are offered to inmates in disciplines such as Adult Basic Education, General Equivalency Diplomas (GED), and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL).

Inmates also participate in Vocational Arts programs such as carpentry, computer literacy, keyboarding, computer based drafting, and graphic technology. The Sheriff’s Department also collaborates with Bunker Hill Community College in a seven-week food sanitation program in which the National Institute of Food Industry certifies inmates. Many of these programs were funded through profits generated through inmate canteen sales. The Department also offers educational programs at the post secondary level, with classes in psychology, parenting, creative writing, business and history.

The House of Correction’s education staff works with inmates whose average reading ability is less than the 5th grade level and whose average mathematics ability is the 7th grade level. A motivated inmate can take classes in many different areas of study and at several different education levels. Inmates who read at a very low level can take Adult Basic Education or Special Education classes. Title I classes are offered to young inmates (up to age 22) who need remedial instruction. An English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) curriculum is offered to inmates whose first language is not English. Inmates who have not earned a high school diploma can participate in pre-GED, GED classes and External Diploma classes.

The Education Division over the years has developed several major initiatives, including multiple collaboration efforts with other agencies such as Bunker Hill Community College, the External Diploma Program with Cathedral High School, and a post-release effort for younger inmates with Youth Options Unlimited, formerly Youth Opportunity Boston. The Department also acquired a curriculum, On Common Ground, which the Department helped pilot for the Department of Education. This program familiarizes students with constitutional issues. Two of the division’s teachers were trained in the nationally acclaimed curriculum, Facing History and Ourselves.


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