Inmate reentry programs are, by design, intended to provide a smooth transition for convicts heading back into civilian life. These programs often include a range of components such as drug or alcohol treatment, anger management, spiritual counseling, parenting classes, and classes on budgeting/financial health. Increasingly, many correctional facilities are discovering that a high school diploma is another vital component that supports inmate reentry.

Earning a high school diploma gives inmates a platform to pursue higher education or enter a stable career. More importantly, it provides them with a sense of accomplishment and long-term gratification, which can help build positive momentum for the individual prior to release, and ultimately lower the chance of recidivism. Says Jason Reynold, Director of the Harvey County Sherrif's Office Support Services: "What's when your whole life has been built around getting your gratification in short-term things, like addictions, to change the pattern of the way you think. We want them to have a new mindset when they get out of jail. We want the people in the program to improve their lives when they get out."1

High school diploma programs that work best for inmate reentry are ones that are self-paced and offer open enrollment, to allow individuals to begin immediately. Likewise, some detention centers prefer a high school diploma over the GED or other high school equivalency exams, as they feel it offers a higher earning potential and may be seen as more prestigious to potential employers - showing that the inmate is committed to their goals. Indeed, on average, high school graduates earn $1,600/month more than GED holders.2 As always, funding is also important when evaluating potential programs, and many high school diploma programs are eligible to be paid for with WIOA reentry funding.

A high school diploma is another tool that can aid in inmate reentry and, when delivered alongside additional support services, offer individuals a second chance to achieve their life goals.

Learn how Penn Foster is supporting reentry programs at Harvey County Detention Center:

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Resources: Photo Credit. (1) Graduate High School in Jail (2) GED Recipients Have Lower Earnings, are Less Likely to Enter College