COLUMBUS — The number of Ohio prisoners earning their high-school equivalency diplomas is up over the past three years, and the achievement rate is higher than the national average, according to a new report.
Ohio’s GED certificate rate is 41.4 per 1,000 inmates — almost 10 points above the national average, according to the report from the Correctional Institution Inspection Committee.
Washington has the highest rate at 74.7, while California has the lowest at eight per 1,000 inmates.
GED certificates awarded by the Ohio Central School System — the prison school district — dropped 34 percent from 2,510 in 2008 to 1,661 in 2010 when staffing was cut, according to the Dayton Daily News. The cuts have continued, but prison officials say they’re making better use of the resources, and the school system issued 2,121 certificates last year.
Ohio operates an adult school in each of the prisons across the state and serves about 21,000 students each year. The system offers classes to help inmates earn their high-school equivalency or training certificates in trades such as culinary arts, turf management or fish hatchery.
The system spent $30.75 million on prisoner education last year, down 22 percent from $39.4 million spent in 2009.
“I think that we have done yeoman’s labor, eking every possible ounce out of every dollar that we get,” said Denise Justice, the prison’s school system superintendent.
Inmates who complete education programs behind bars are 43 percent less likely to return to prison, and employment after release is 13 percent higher among convicts who participated in academic or vocational education programs.
Ohio’s recidivism rate last year hit a record low of 28.7 percent, well below the national average.