Correctional Institute programs help female inmates gain education …

On Tuesday, August 8, 2017, during the regularly scheduled Board of County Commissioner’s meeting, Karen Worthey-Osborne Program Director for the Intensive Outpatient Program, presented an overview of the Hernando Correctional Institution’s (Hernando CI) Programs. The Hernando CI is a prison that houses around 400 female inmates and is located on Spring Hill Drive, in Brooksville.

On August 8 Osborne said the programs are created to help prepare women for the world that awaits them once they are released. “Our task is to prepare them for the challenges they are going to be faced with upon release. Some of the obstacles are housing, employment and regaining trust from potential employers, future neighbors, family members and the community at large,” Osborne said.

One program at Hernando CI is the Faith and Character Program. Ladies within the program are expected to complete various courses including Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, House of Healing: a prisoner’s guide to inner power and freedom and Life Mapping: an individualized plan for re-entry into society.

Inmates are provided an opportunity to continue their education through the Life Christian University where the ladies can receive their general education degree (GED), an associate’s degree, a bachelor’s degree and even a master’s degree.

In 2016, five inmates received their bachelor’s degree, three received master’s degrees in Theology while 16 attained their GED.

The Faith and Character Program also had a total of 89 graduates in the year 2016 alone.

During the meeting on Aug. 8, Osborne said that it is critical for the female inmates to begin the process of preparing for the future. “We want them to start thinking about, ‘what are you going to do when you get out.’ That is a critical part,” Osborne said.

According to the National Institute of Justice over half of prisoners released to the public were likely to be arrested within the first year of release. Osborne said that these women need support to grow and ensure that they will not be repeat offenders.

“If they don’t have the education or skills it is very likely they will go back to some criminal behavior they are familiar with,” Osborne said. Commissioner John Allocco thanked Osborne for her work. “We all hope for low recidivism (reoffending) rates, that is the goal here. I want to applaud you for actually doing something about this and helping these women,” Allocco said.

In her closing statement, Osborne read aloud the philosophy the inmates recite daily:

“First let us know these things, that our lives matter because we are born with potential. There are people who love us and who need our love. We are not victims of circumstance because every person can be greater in their heart and mind than any circumstance. To be free we must master our own habits because they have us held hostage in fear and anger and lead us to do desperate things and commit thoughtless harm. We can be a part of something greater than ourselves. Let us do these things, humble ourselves to learning out of respect for our own potential and out of respect for those who teach us. Take courage against our fears and be steady in our effort so that what is waiting in us to grow can become strong and beautiful. Extend our arms to others and draw strength from each other. For the one who falls low can bring us all down, unless we help her rise. The one who rises high can take us all higher if we strive together.”