WiderNet Highlighted on Jails-to-Jobs Website

WiderNet's Corrections Off-line Education Platform (COEP) is one of the resources highlighted on the website as a tool to "empower and educate, reduce recidivism and improve public safety." “This platform allows correctional facilities to build an educational platform offline,” says Heather Erwin, WiderNet's prison project coordinator. “From the 40 million resources we have in the eGranary Digital Library, we took those that crossed over well and used them for COEP.” Housed on the education platform are a wide variety of resources from GED training to On-The-Job skills.  

Richard Lathrop sites in his book Who's Hiring You, "He or she who gets hired is not necessarily the one who can do the job the best, but the one who knows the most about how to get hired." Jail-to-Jobs, a web-based how-to guide to becoming employed, sites that inmates are three times less likely to go back to jail or prison if they are employed, and strives to provide ex-offenders with the resources they need. But before inmates practice their 15-second elevator pitch, Jail-To-Jobs suggests that inmates must focus on the educational opportunities that are available to them while they are waiting to be released. 

COEP current and future locations

WiderNet’s prison project was launched in 2006 at the Iowa Medical Classification Center, where all offenders in Iowa go before being sent on to one of the state’s 11 correctional facilities. The organization delivered a server to the facility, where it was installed in the library and used for online research in an offline manner. Since then, the prison project expanded to other facilities in Iowa and is now at a prison in Washington State. The WiderNet Project has also contracted with California to go into the Corcoran Medical Center and has been talking to Los Angeles County and officials in the San Francisco Bay Area to expand to those places as well. It is also in discussion with the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services and the Windham School District, which operates schools on 90 Texas Department of Criminal Justice sites. In addition, the nonprofit signed a contract with the Correctional Educations Association to provide content for tablets that will be used in a pilot project by Ashland University, which is located in Ashland, Ohio and offers courses in correctional facilities around the state.

Funding for the Program

According to Erwin, facilities that have been interested in implementing COEP usually have access to Perkins grant money. The Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Actprovides more than $1.1 billion each year to states for improving secondary and post-secondary career and technical education programs. The WiderNet Project is looking for partners and sites to help spread COEP to more correctional facilities around the nation. Contact us at 919-240-4622 or by email at info@widernet.org.

Full article can be found at http://jailstojobs.org/wordpress/widernet-project-brings-online-resources-to-correctional-facilities/


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