Saturday (Oct. 19), 25 inmates at the St. Tammany Parish Jail traded their stripes for a cap and gown as they received their high school equivalency diplomas as part of the St. Tammany Parish Jail’s first graduation ceremony.
Family members looked on while these inmates, turned students, proudly walked across a makeshift stage after completing the necessary course work and passing the High School Equivalency Test (HiSET).
Through a cooperative endeavor agreement with the Louisiana Department of Corrections, the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office provides Department of Corrections offenders, who are convicted in and/or are returning to the Florida Parishes Regions of the state upon their release, with services that will assist them with their re-entry into the community.
As part of the Re-Entry Program, the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office offers a number of classes promoting change, self-awareness/improvement, recovery living and education, this includes courses on parenting, anger management and an opportunity to earn a High School Equivalency Diploma while incarcerated.
Offenders are able to earn up to 360 days of good time credit as an incentive for taking the classes while incarcerated.
Students participate in a classroom setting using a computer-based learning program and are under the tutelage of an instructor provided by the Department of Corrections.
Of the 28 who tested as part of the first class for the HiSET course, 25 passed and earned their High School Equivalency Diploma and their right to participate in Saturday’s ceremony.
The second classes of 20 students have already started their instruction and are working toward earning their diplomas.
“It is important that we continue to remind offenders that their past does not have to define their future,” Sheriff Randy Smith said. “I am pleased my office is able to provide offenders an opportunity to expand their thought process and performance in order to evolve into productive and efficient citizens. I am proud of these men who worked hard to achieve their diplomas.”