HOLLIDAYSBURG — The option to prepare for the Pennsylvania high school diploma equivalency exam has returned to Blair County Jail.
“We have been officially operational again for a week”, Warden Abbie Tate told the prison board at its monthly meeting where she spoke about the immediate popularity of what is called the GED – General Education Development – program.
Based on the November report provided to the board, the prison’s GED program has 16 male and nine female inmates.
Tate told the board that within the first hour of making a GED program available, 20 inmates signed up.
Several years have passed since the county jail offered a GED class for inmates with follow-up testing. The prison program was discontinued in January 2014 after testing was changed from a paper-based exam to a computer-based test that could only be taken at a designated testing site.
Goodwill of the Southern Alleghenies is working with Blair County Jail to support the GED program, Deputy Warden Shaun Edmundson said.
The regional non-profit agency, he added, provides a teacher who comes to the prison two days a week, with time in the mornings for male inmates and afternoons for female inmates.
HiSet is the online computer testing site that inmates will use for GED certification testing.
“Our goal is to have a case manager trained to administer the tests online,” said Edmundson. “We also plan to have a trained deputy warden to HiSet test inmates soon.”
Inmates who pass the math, writing, science and social studies tests will receive a Commonwealth High School Diploma issued by the state Department of Education.
The GED program restoration effort is part of an ongoing effort prison administrators have made this year to restore programs that were interrupted during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The November report to the prison board shows a program to improve parenting skills is growing, with 27 male prisoners and 16 female prisoners.
According to the November report, participants in the drug and alcohol pre-release program included 45 female and 13 male inmates.
The report also said 18 inmates were enrolled in a course offered by Reformers Unanimous, five men enrolled in the rehabilitation program offered by Goodwill of the Southern Alleghenies and six inmates attended a Salvation Army presentation.
County leaders have also made efforts to reintroduce a work release program for inmates with court approval.
Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 814-946-7456.