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Florida Department of Corrections Taps Online Education Program To Help Reduce Recidivism

Inmates within the Florida Department of Corrections system are earning their high school diplomas online to prepare themselves for college and future careers.

In February of this year, the Florida Department of Corrections contracted Smart Horizons Career Online Education (SHCOE) to provide an online education program to enable inmates to earn an 18-credit high school diploma and credentialed career certificate. The pilot program launched at the Madison Correctional Institution in April and the Lowell Annex Correctional Institution in Ocala in May.

SHCOE is the first online school district to be accredited with AdvancED and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and the programs at the Madison and Lowell facilities are the first online secondary education programs at any correctional facility in the United States, according to information from SHCOE.

The majority of inmates in Florida correctional institutions do not have a high school diploma, according to SHCOE. With this online program, the online school district aims to help the Florida Department of Corrections lower recidivism rates and reduce costs. Inmates in the program take the online courses in supervised onsite learning labs that are available five days a week. Inmates are praising the program, and it already has a waiting list at both institutions.

"At 36 years of age with no high school diploma or trade, there are not many positive options to go forward with my life," said a Florida Department of Corrections inmate in a prepared statement. "Learning on the computer has been helpful in all aspects--seeing how most work today is done on computers. This opportunity has helped me greatly--to stay focused and to accomplish a great goal."

Further information about the Smart Horizons Career Online Education program is available on the SHCOE site.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at [email protected].

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