The prisons still leave room for MUCH improvement, but this is a good move. All studies show that education is the best way to reduce recidivism … and that means less costs and less suffering by crime victims.

Hats off to Commissioner Claire DeMatteis. She is starting to “get it”.

Excerpts from the Article:

Nearly all offenders are released from prison at some point in their lives. Just under 30 percent of the maximum security inmates have a high school diploma.

That doesn’t bode well for sustained life on the outside. Without the tools to earn an honest living, ex-convicts may soon re-offend and rejoin the prison population.

As part of a continuing quest for prison reform following a deadly riot in 2017, the Delaware Department of Correction is focusing on giving inmates the ability to find work and earn enough money to extend their freedom. The $3.5 million Building 20 expansion brought classrooms to James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, and the schooling started this week. Inmates are taking classes designed to ready them for passing the GED test, completing the process of gaining a high school education.

The area also provides rooms for increased opportunity for mental health treatment in group settings, along with increased vocational training and industry certification instruction capacity as well.

Teacher Marc Dickerson said more than 100 inmates have shown interest in the program; 40 are currently taking part in one-hour sessions Monday through Friday, splitting into four groups throughout the day.

The jailed students’ positive response has been palpable, Mr. Dickerson said. “For the most part they’re feeling such a great sense of relief,” he said, noting that several have asked for study materials to take with them when returning to their cells.

“Some have been sitting around for years getting stagnant. You can tell they need some sort of activity because there’s not typically a lot to do otherwise in a maximum security setting,”  The DOC announced the program and its new classrooms at a Wednesday afternoon unveiling before DOC staff, elected and state officials and media members.

“We believe in this program and the power it gives an inmate upon release into the community,” Mr. Dickerson said.

“This is a good chance for high-security inmates to take advantage of state-provided services and make a conscious decision to change the direction of their lives,” she said.

Officials lauded the contributions of Vaughn Warden Dana Metzger in the educational additions.

DOC Commissioner Claire DeMatteis said the educational building is a significant step in meeting Gov. John Carney’s mandate to increase reentry support and reduce offender’s recidivism rates through Executive Order 27. A Delaware Correctional Reentry Commission report outlined the coordination and resources needed to improve staff safety and create inmates who are better equipped to lead a successful life following release.

“That was not a report that collected dust or sat in a drawer,” she said. “ … We are gradually and steadily changing the culture that led to the darkest days (which brought death of Lt. Steven Floyd during the Vaughn riot in February 2017.)

The Whole Story

New program helps Delaware inmates attain GED