By Kristina Hall
Texas is a big state. And within this big state with a big heart is the Windham School District, which provides academic and vocational education to eligible offenders incarcerated within the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDJC).
The Windham School District strongly believes that prison education is the key to reducing recidivism. The District extends that belief by providing appropriate educational programming and services that meet the needs of the eligible offender population incarcerated within the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. TDJC believes that education helps offenders become responsible and productive members of their own communities as well as society as a whole.
By educating prisoners, the Windham School District hopes to:
•Reduce the cost of confinement and imprisonment;
•Increase the success of inmates maintaining employment upon release; and
•Provide an incentive for offenders to behave in positive ways during imprisonment.
Interestingly enough, of the 90-correctional facilities that the Windham School District serves within the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, most of the literacy program participants attend 15 hours per week and the vocational training participants attend up to 30 hours per week. This statement shows that inmate participants are excited and willing to learn to better themselves, not only while incarcerated, but upon release, too.
To be eligible for the Windham School District Program within the TDCJ, inmates must first be screened for the appropriate classes that are available, in regards to age, gender, race, and ethnicity.
Academic programs include classes such as: English-as-a-Second Language, Reading, Cognitive Intervention, Parenting, and Perspectives and Solutions. Several occupational and vocational courses are taught as well, including Auto Specialization and several Apprenticeship Programs. Participants are also eligible to use some of these courses for continuing education programs for two-year, four-year, graduate college, and vocational college credits
The Windham School District was founded in 1969 by the Texas State Legislature to provide educational programming for offenders in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. The Windham School District is committed to improving the quality of programs offered to the inmate participants as well as constantly improving education standards.