Jail Inmates Learn to Read and Write

DeFuniak Springs, Fla. - Walton County Sheriff's officials say they deal with a large number of inmates who have trouble reading and writing. So, they're introducing a pilot program to boost literacy. The jail is breaking new ground. 

It's call Sound Training Reform, and it's supposed to help boost reading and writing levels for a jail population that is, more often than not, functionally illiterate. 

"Our goal here is to build a program where we assess, stabilize and treat the needs of our inmates at the Walton County Jail. The end goal here is that people leave us better than they came in, that way we can reduce recidivism," explained Tamara Bogle, Mental Health Treatment Manager.

The sound training breaks things down to the basics. It helps the inmates figure out the roots of words, what those roots mean and how they can build upon those things to better understand language. 

"I'm hoping to get the literary skills that I need to go out to be able to apply for work and actually return to a school setting," shared Preston Hines, Walton County Jail Inmate. 

"Overall it's to help them build self esteem. So, that they can feel confident about themselves and hopefully, by doing that, they won't continuously re-offend and find themselves back in jail," said Andy Watkins, Walton County Jail Programs Manager.

One of the inmates is nearing the end of his time in jail and said his motivation and reason for learning is for his kids. 

"They're going to love it, when I sit down and help them do their homework," shared Craig Etheridge, Walton County Jail Inmate. 
"I hope these guys, when they leave here, they will continue to try to better themselves, to realize that life is more important than committing crimes," said Watkins. 

Walton County is the first and only jail in the United States to implement the "Sound" program for learning. 

'Sound Training' consists of six, one-hour sessions during a six week period. The first four inmates selected for the pilot training have already started the program.

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