September 13, 2010 9:57:00 AM
As ironic as it sounds, some local inmates can thank getting locked up for giving them a jump start on their education.
The Lowndes County Adult Detention Center recently restarted its General Equivalency Diploma program after a decade-long hiatus, and it''s provided new hope for the future for around a dozen inmates so far.
The program is being offered through help from East Mississippi Community College, and is being run at no extra cost to taxpayers.
While it''s easy to default to a get-tough, no-frills attitude for jail inmates, studies show that inmates who earn their GED are less likely to end up back in jail -- something taxpayers do have to foot the bill for. "The majority of studies indicate that earning GED while in prison reduces the likelihood of returning to prison," according to an article published in the journal Encyclopedia of Corrections.
Studies also show that inmates who earn their GEDs exit jail with higher earning potential, at least within the first few years. Minority inmates benefit the most from these programs, studies say.
Of course, those guilty of crimes deserve to be punished. But inmates who are ready to change their ways have a better chance of staying out of trouble with a better education.
A General Equivalency Degree doesn''t compare to four years of high school. But for those who find themselves traveling down the wrong path and are ready to make amends, such programs give them another reason not to end up back in jail.
Our hats are off to the volunteers at EMCC, and Lowndes jail officials, for restarting this program that will hopefully pay dividends to taxpayers for years to come.