COVINGTON, Ga. — Inmates have access to educational, vocational and self-improvement courses through a program initiated by Newton County Sheriff Ezell Brown.
The Newton County Detention Center’s phone provider, Pay Tel Communications, provided the tablets at no cost to the Sheriff’s Office or Newton County taxpayers. Additionally, there is no cost for the inmates to take the courses.
Currently, there are 222 tablets in the facility. Due to the success of the program, the number of tablets will soon be increased to 450, allowing equal access to all learners.
While investigating ways to prepare incarcerated individuals for a productive life outside the jail, Brown learned about computer tablets offered by the Newton County Detention Center’s phone provider, Pay Tel Communications, a news release stated.
“Skills training and job readiness is a key part of reversing the recidivism cycle,” Brown said. “I recently saw a statistic that formerly incarcerated individuals have a nationwide unemployment rate of 27%. I want to give the people in my custody the ability to make a better life for themselves after incarceration.”
The Pathway to Achieve program offers more than 900 educational courses accessible through the tablets, covering topics such as addiction recovery, anger management and parenting.
Additionally, there are recorded religious sermons and faith-based content on the tablets.
Since the tablets are on a closed network without direct access to the internet, it is a safe and secure way to deliver educational content to the entire jail population, the release stated.
Upon initial login to the tablet, the learner takes a Risk/Need Assessment (RNA). The questions are designed to determine each inmate’s criminal thinking (likelihood to reoffend) and guides them to recommended courses to support behavior change. Inmates earn credits for the coursework they complete and the credits can be used to listen to music, play games or watch movies.
Those who have been sentenced in court to take an anger management course, for example, have the ability to forward the course completion certificate to their attorney or probation officer.
In addition to the coursework, the tablets also feature a list of reentry resources available in the Newton County area. The guide is designed to help make reentering the community more manageable. It provides a listing of places that can assist with some of life’s basic necessities like housing, food and clothing. Anyone who needs support can access these resources online at www.rise4me.com.
Brown is impressed with the learner engagement on the tablets. Since implementation, inmates have completed over 250,000 courses. Additionally, 52 learners have completed all 167 GED prep courses. Offering GED courses onsite isn’t possible, mostly due to financial constraints and a staffing shortage. With the tablets, every inmate has access to these courses and can take them at their own pace.
Pay Tel Communications, Inc. provides industry-leading Inmate communications and investigative technology to confinement facilities with the stability of over 35 years of proven performance. Key product offerings include the CenturionITS call platform, inteleTABLET and the inteleTOOLS suite of investigative features.