Liberty University and the Department of Corrections would team up to give prisoners a computer-based educational opportunity under legislation proposed by Del. Kathy Byron, R-Campbell County.The program would be a prototype, unlike any in Virginia or most prison systems in other states. Few Virginia prisoners have any kind of access to a computer.
Inmates would not be able to use the Internet.
The purpose is to cut down the number of inmates who, upon their release, commit new crimes and come back to prison because they lack the work skills needed in society.
Although the program’s design is taken from Liberty’s distance-learning program that reaches around the world, the computers in the prison would reach no farther than a server located in the same classroom with the prisoners. A Liberty University instructor, who also would serve as the only tutor, would load the course material for each student onto that server.
Inmates could study at different levels in the same classroom at the same time.
While one might work on remedial high-school level studies, another could be earning credits toward a college degree in, for
example, business administration.
Language in the budget bill proposed by the House Finance Committee this week directs the Corrections Department to have the program operating by September at the Green Rock Correctional Center in Chatham.
Green Rock, opened in 2007, is a medium-security prison that can hold about 1,000 inmates.
The ultimate goal is to have the program expanded to other prisons in Virginia.
Although the program would be established in the budget bill, no state funding is involved.
The program’s goal is preventing recidivism, or inmates returning to prison.
Most prison tutorial programs are based on correspondence courses. The soft-cover books they use are much like the ones his father studied about 80 years ago.