An innovative new program is taking shape at the Cleveland County jail in an effort to keep inmates from coming back. Sheriff Todd Gibson is using tablets to offer them both education and entertainment.
The Edovo tablets are not just for fun. They are offering the people behind bars real tools to help them succeed when they re-enter society. One-hundred and twenty tablets are available for the 387 Cleveland County inmates every day.
To compare, Sheriff Todd Gibson says, “We can maybe only get 20 hours a week in our conventional, evidence-based programming. We can get close to 1,300 hours a week of education through these tablets.”
Gibson negotiated the deal for the tablets in the county's latest phone contract, and he and the inmates agree, it was well worth it.
Trustee Lerome Venable says, “In the old days you played cards and dominoes and it really doesn’t get you anywhere in life. You leave here and go, ‘you want to play some dominoes?’ But here, you can actually earn your CDL license. You can get different certificates for your art, and you can pursue this on the street.”
Venable is studying art and physical therapy, interests he has developed while serving time.
Another man charged with domestic abuse took pages upon pages of notes from a course that will help him have healthier relationships.
Jacob Cardwell now hopes to be a commercial truck driver like his dad.
He says, “I wouldn’t be staying in the same town, hanging around the same old people, old friends getting into bag stuff, bad habits.”
The inmates are now learning for more than seven hours a week on average, and in exchange for their hard work, they earn credits to play games, watch movies, listen to music and contact their family members through monitored messaging.
Studies show education like this will keep 43 percent of participants from future imprisonment. The sheriff says that is a good thing for everyone. “We don’t want you here,” he emphasizes, “but if you come here, we’re going to give you an opportunity to better yourself.”