In July 2000, the Correctional Education Program had 626 employees, and all institutions except Florida State Prison and Union Correctional Institution had education programs that provided academic and vocational education. Over the past five fiscal years, the Correctional Education Program sustained budgetary and efficiency reductions, resulting in the loss of 276 institution-based education positions, 6 region-based positions, and 10 central office positions. In FY 2000- 01, academic education programs employed 178 academic teachers and had a daily operational capacity of 6,328 students. As of June 30, 2005, these programs employed 85 academic teachers and had a daily operational capacity of 3,284 students. During this same period, the total inmate population increased by 18%, from approximately 72,000 in June 2001 to 84,900 in June 2005. In contrast, the department's capability to provide academic education services to inmates declined by 50%, and the number of GEDs earned by academic program completers declined by 37%, from 1,178 awarded in FY 2000-01 to 740 awarded in FY 2004-05.
Realizing the need to increase inmate access to education services, Secretary James V. Crosby, Jr., directed the Department's Bureau of Program Services to expand academic education program services to institutions currently without such programs, and specifically suggested the use of well-educated inmates as instructors or teaching assistants. In response, the Bureau of Program Services developed the Inmate Teaching Assistant (ITA) Program.
Program Model and Early Results
Inmate Teaching Assistant programs are academic programs supervised by a single, certified academic teacher. The program provides grade-appropriate instruction in mathematics, reading, and language instruction to inmates with educational levels ranging from beginning literacy through high school equivalency (GED). A key component of the program is the use of Inmate Teaching Assistants - inmates who possess at least a high school diploma or GED and who have received academic and practical training in various instructional methods from certified teachers. The ITA program concept was piloted at Taylor Correctional Institution (CI) and Wakulla CI in 2004 and early 2005. By December 2004, 17 inmates enrolled in the Taylor CI program earned their GEDs. Additional ITA programs were established at Cross City CI, Homestead CI, and Okeechobee CI in spring 2005. Since then, the number of inmates enrolled in ITA programs who have earned their GEDs include six from Homestead CI and another nine from Taylor CI. Five inmates enrolled in the ITA program at Wakulla CI have qualified to take the GED exam.
As of June 30, 2005, there were five operational ITA programs and seven more being implemented. When all 12 ITA programs are operational, academic education daily capacity will increase by 980 student slots - from 3,284 to 4,264 slots, an enrollment increase of 30% from FY 2004-05.
ITA programs only operate in adult institutions which do not house special education inmates. All such inmates receive education services only from certified education professionals as is required by Florida and federal law.
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