Ashe releases 2009 stats on inmate education and vocational training
By Cory Garwacki
LUDLOW -- The statistics are in. Hampden County Sheriff Michael Ashe has released the department's Education, Vocational Training and Volunteer Program numbers for the fiscal year 2009.
In terms of specific stats released by the city, 125 inmates received their GED's.
"Our numbers have not changed a great deal in the last year, but we have been able to keep improving," Sheriff Ashe told Reminder Publications, referring to the department's collective commitment to prepare the inmates for life beyond their time at the jail.
To date, the total number of GED-certificates awarded to inmates during Ashe's 35 year career as city sheriff stands at 3,960.
"I am confident that this number will reach 4,000 before the next fiscal year," Ashe said. In addition to earning their GED certificates, inmates continued to make progress while paying their collective dues at the correctional facility.
This is evident in their involvement with several in-house programs that maintain a focus on a variety of skills.
Within the facility's Graphic Arts and Printing Technology program, some 130 inmates handled all 1,000 printing orders for the main correctional facility.
In addition to filling print orders for that location, workers also worked to fill part of that total number of orders for the Pre-Release Center, the Day Reporting Center, the Western Massachusetts Regional Women's Correctional Center, the other services that extend from the main facility.
Also among the group of programs that inmates participated in was training in welding.
Inmates constructed stainless steel benches for holding cells at the state police barracks and creating dog barriers for the Sheriff's Departments' K-9 Unit vehicles.
The Adult Basic Education Literacy Level program and the English as a Second Language program saw a combined total of 266 inmates last fiscal year.
"When inmates come to us, about 70 percent of them are unemployed, with about 90 percent of the inmates lacking skills," Ashe stated.
Ashe added, "The [Hampden County Correctional] facility is not a warehouse for the inmates to do their time. Here we really mean what we say, and we work to provide programs for the inmates so that when they are re-released back into the community, they have some type of skill to continue to be as productive as possible."
Four hundred forty-five community volunteers were welcomed by the department during FY09. They helped out in various ways, as did 23 fall-semester college students and 33 spring-semester students, respectively whom worked alongside department staff in order to complete academic internships.
"I am very pleased with our [correctional] facility's recidivism rate, and the great job that our staff has continued to do to reduce our total inmate count considerably," Ashe said.