At CoreCivic, education is an important building block in our goal toward reducing recidivism, and graduation ceremonies are a way to celebrate an important milestone in the lives of those in our care. However, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early March, facilities had to make many difficult decisions to keep staff and inmates safe, including the suspension of in-person graduation ceremonies.
Thankfully, that's starting to change.
On Friday, July 31, six student-inmates at Trousdale Turner Correctional Center in Hartsville, Tennessee, graduated with industry-recognized certificates (IRC) from CoreCivic's career and technical education (CTE) programming, marking the first in-person graduation ceremony since before the onset of COVID-19.
For the safety of staff and inmates, in-person social visitation remains suspended across Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC) facilities, and Trousdale is no exception. In order to adhere properly to health and safety policies, only Trousdale staff and graduates were able to attend the ceremony.
"Trousdale's education staff has maintained diligence while helping student-inmates continue with their studies in preparation for release," said Trousdale Warden Raymond Byrd. "I am very proud of these inmates' perseverance despite the unprecedented challenges students have faced nationwide during this pandemic. We know it may not be easy to participate in learning outside of the classroom, but these student-inmates did their very best."
Throughout the pandemic, Trousdale – like many other CoreCivic facilities – has found creative ways to help student-inmates continue their education despite being unable to meet in a traditional classroom setting, including assembling education packets with GED and CTE curriculum material for student-inmates to work independently. Education staff routinely stop by to check progress answer questions. Thanks to the work of our education professionals, more than 2,100 student-inmates have earned a GED or vocational certification at CoreCivic since the onset of COVID-19.
CTE programming prepares inmates for better jobs following their release. Historically, student-inmates at CoreCivic facilities nationwide have earned IRCs in construction fields such as carpentry, masonry, electric, plumbing, and HVAC. Computer-based certificates are also available, and inmates have earned IRCs in Microsoft Office and computer coding.
At many CoreCivic facilities, inmates can participate in CTE programs that issue IRCs in Braille, diesel maintenance, and welding. These six CTE graduates at Trousdale were awarded IRCs in Computer Application and Literacy – or Microsoft Office programming – which better equips them to work with computer-based applications. Since 2015, CoreCivic has awarded more than 23,000 IRCs to student-inmates across CoreCivic facilities.
CoreCivic congratulates these six student-inmates for their dedication – despite the challenges of a pandemic – to better prepare themselves for reentry through education.