The Salt River Department of Corrections offers its detainees a variety of different programs, one of which is a General Education Diploma (GED) Program. This program has been offered since the new corrections facility within the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community was opened in 2007.
While most correction facilities are forced to incorporate rehabilitative programs, SRDOC has willingly done so at the discretion of the Community and tribal council. SRDOC collaborates with the Salt River Department of Education and assists detainees with preparing and successfully completing their GED.
“Our goals [are] safety, security and to make sure there are plenty of programs and services provided to help [detainees] become productive members of the Community again,” said William Daly, Corrections director. “We do have individuals on a regular basis [who] tell us and explain how they truly appreciate everything they’ve been given and earned here. Hopefully they are going to change themselves, some people don’t, but we hope that we can impact at least some of the people that come through here.”
Since 2007, 26 adult detainees have received their GED’s. Perhaps 26 is a number you weren’t quite expecting, but keep in mind that the average stay of each detainee is seven to 10 days. During this time, an average of 18 to 20 adults participate in the program on a daily basis. They are in a regular classroom setting and they also utilize a computer-based program. SRDOC is an approved testing site.
SRDOC recently started to collaborate with Scottsdale Community College to provide an informational workshop for detainees who have a high school diploma or a GED. This workshop will help lead detainees down a career path based on their interests. This two day workshop will cover subjects such as; becoming familiar with SCC’s counseling services, the importance of career development, goal setting, and getting started at SCC.
“The first step we’re taking with SCC is [with this workshop.] [Detainees] will do an analysis, be evaluated and this will help them determine what they want to do. Many of them don’t know what they want to do, this will give them a little bit of assistance in trying to identify what it is they’re good at, what they’re interested in, and things like that,” said Daly.
When asked about possibly expanding to Arizona State University in the future, Daly added, “That’s a possibility. We’re starting small right now. We’re going to see how this goes and possibly expand into other classes and/or workshops with SCC.”
GED Program Participants
Two detainees, who will remain nameless due to confidentiality purposes, came forward with their GED program experiences. Both admitted to a rocky past and through the various programs offered at SRDOC, they have realized that there is a far better life beyond SRDOC and a GED.
One detainee mentioned only going as far as the seventh grade and was shocked when he passed three of the GED preparation tests. “I didn’t think I was going to pass, but I passed three of them. I was shocked but, I felt good because my mom is a school teacher. This program is good because we work one on one with the teacher and we’re brushing up [our] everyday skills; learning how to read and write.”
As family plays a huge role in our everyday lives, this detainee wants to make his mother proud. Some long term goals included going into the automotive industry or becoming a contractor.
The second detainee mentioned going to the eleventh grade and elaborated on being in SRDOC and how this was a reality check for him. “Everyone in the [GED] class has a good time because we learn something new every day. It’s nice to be in school again and finally grow up, I just want to be proud of myself and know that I accomplished something. I would like my fellow inmates to come [to the class.] Maybe if we set the example for them, they’ll want to accomplish it too.”
For more information on the SRDOC programs call (480) 362-7200.