BC partnering with Sheriff’s Office to teach GED classes

BC partnering with Sheriff’s Office to teach GED classes

Mon Dec 12, 2022


Brazosport College representatives recently toured the Brazoria County Detention Center after beginning a new program that that will offer GED programs in the facility. Pictured are, from left, Dr. Vincent Solis, Brazosport College President; Robert Perryman, Brazosport College Board of Regents Chair; Anne Bartlett, Brazosport College Vice President, Industry & Community Resources; Gracie Pequeño, Brazosport College Community Education AEL Grant Project Manager; Sergeant Dwight Taylor, Brazoria County Sheriff's Office; Brazoria County Sheriff Bo Stallman; Jason Cordoba, BC Board of Regents Vice Chair.

The Brazosport College Board of Regents authorized a Memorandum of Understanding with the Brazoria County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) to provide educational programs to inmates at the December Board of Regents meeting at Brazosport College.

The grant-funded program is designed to assist those who are incarcerated with the fundamentals to be able to seek employment and possibly achieve a higher form of education when they are released from BCSO custody. Currently, this opportunity is only being offered to trusties at the Brazoria County Detention Center.

“This is the start of a very meaningful partnership that gives hope and opportunities to the trusties,” said Brazosport College CE/AEL Grant Project Manager Gracie Pequeño. “By removing the barrier of not having their High School Equivalency and/or providing them with the training to help find gainful work post-release, we are reducing recidivism. Most importantly, we are helping build their self-esteem, their sense of belonging and believing their community wants to see them succeed.”

Statistics have shown the effectiveness of providing educational opportunities for inmates. Those who achieve a minimum of a GED have a lower recidivism rate, can earn better wages when released and will also save taxpayers money. For example, a report by the Texas Center for Justice and Equity, formally the Criminal Justice Coalition, discovered that prison education has been linked to as much as a 43 percent reduction in recidivism.

In sum, the more education they receive, the lower the chances they will be detained again.

“This program is huge for not only the Brazoria County Sheriff’s Department, but also for the individuals that will be part of the program by helping them rebuild their lives and their confidence, as well as make them less likely to be repeat offenders,” said Sergeant Dwight Taylor. “In the long run, this also promotes an overall safer community for the citizens of Brazoria County.

“We greatly appreciate the partnership that we’ve established with Brazosport College, and this is just the beginning of programs and certifications that we will be offering in the future,” he added.

For the program to be implemented, Pequeño and Taylor worked closely with the College’s Information Technology and the County’s Information Services departments to ensure secured Internet access was available for testing. BC’s Counseling & Testing department also assisted in helping ensure a classroom was set up that followed the guidelines for an approved site.

Nine students were initially given a pre-assessment to determine their educational levels and seven students are currently in the program. Classes began Nov. 28, and three students are already scheduled to take the GED test.

“One of the most important discussions we had with the students during the first night of class was that their release from the detention center would not be a barrier for them getting their GED,” Pequeño said. “Should a student be released prior to obtaining their GED, they are able to contact our program and we can continue assisting them with obtaining their GED, and also to help them continue their education into a career pathway either at Brazosport College or at program near them.”

The program is made possible through a grant from the Texas Workforce Commission.

“Students are provided all their supplies, including a GED book for them to use to help study when not in class,” Pequeño added. “Our next step is to coordinate training courses that will provide the students with nationally recognizable credentials.”

If a student is released prior to completing the program, Brazosport College will assign an advisor to check in on the student and encourage them to finish the program at no cost to the student.

“This is a special partnership that we’ve established with Brazoria County Sheriff Bo Stallman and his team members at the Brazoria County Detention Center,” said Brazosport College President Dr. Vincent Solis. “This new program will help bring educational services to individuals with the hopes of providing the skills and education needed to acquire gainful employment.”