In keeping with our commitment to helping those in our care successfully reenter society, and in response to the increasing call for an online presence in educational programming, CoreCivic is deploying ResNet (short for Resident Network) at 20 of its correctional facilities. This project involves the installation of a secure controlled network and the addition of new Microsoft® Surface laptops at each of these sites.
The number of laptops per site will vary depending on facility size, with the average being 20 laptops. These laptops can be configured as needed within the wireless hub for both group learning and individual lab time. CoreCivic's Senior Director of Reentry Services Matt Moore pointed out that the layering of different modes of learning is important to reaching more people and reducing recidivism, because while some individuals do well in a class setting, others learn best by sitting at a computer alone and working at their own pace. Of course, just having access to updated technology is, in and of itself, critical to the success of returning citizens.
CoreCivic's Technology department is putting strict security measures in place to ensure compliance and public safety. This includes a firewall at each site that allows residents to access only the specific websites needed for that facility’s educational programming. At the laptop level, a Cisco© Meraki desktop agent on each machine limits what the user can access and change, and also gives the systems team the ability to monitor what users are doing and control the machines remotely from anywhere in the country.
Installation is complete at 19 facilities, with the final site slated to be ready at some point in summer 2023. An important component of the project is connecting residents to online job skills training, testing and certification. In fact, the project’s timing was expedited, in part, by the decision of the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) to transition to an online-only platform by Aug. 1 this year. ResNet will accommodate this change and will also now be home to many programs that CoreCivic has in place, in some form or another, including GED/HiSET, a number of vocational programs such as those developed in partnership with Fuel Education, Trinity Services Group, the Home Builders Institute, and other programs vital to reentry such as anger management, substance abuse education and financial literacy.
In addition, a wide array of new digital programming is available through the ResNet platform.
“The content possibilities are limitless,” said Moore. “We get inquiries every week from various organizations, small and large, who have developed new content they want to make available to those in prisons. So, we are always vetting those to determine which will work and which will not.”
Just one example of programming recently added is a podcast series called Prison to Promise, created by Dr. Craig Waleed, an educator, counselor, motivational speaker and author who was once incarcerated himself. In each episode, he interviews a different guest who shares their story of overcoming the obstacles of reentry to find success and fulfillment.
Moore also talked about another partner, Geographic Solutions, whose Virtual OneStop Reentry Employment Opportunities (VOSREO) software system allows an inmate to search for a job in a given geographic area, submit an application and even communicate with the employers—with the help of a case manager, so that security protocols are in place—enabling them to actually secure a position ahead of release.
“We’re piloting that right now on the ResNet laptops at our Jenkins Correctional Center in Georgia and hope to be expanding to other sites after the pilot," said Moore. "With the new technology in secure facilities opening up lots of doors for more content, it’s a very exciting time in our ongoing efforts to eliminate barriers to reentering society and getting a good job.”