Gov. Nathan Deal said Thursday that he wants to establish two charter high schools in the state prison system to allow inmates to receive high school diplomas as well as GEDs.

Focusing on his plan to build upon his first term’s criminal justice reform efforts, Deal told the combined House and Senate Appropriations Committees that his FY 2016 budget will recommend more than $12 million in additional funds for the inmate education program. That comes on top of an additional $3 million in his amended FY 2015 budget.

Along with the charter high schools, the program includes expanded vocational education programs, a GED fast track initiative and learning centers across all prison facilities. Private prisons can also participate in the vocational education efforts, to be administered by the Georgia Career College System, the new name for the Technical College System of Georgia.

The proposed funding would create 28 new academic positions in key areas, along with increasing the number of full-time rather than part-time corrections teachers. He also called for money for three principals to head various regions of the state, bringing the “rigor and discipline” of traditional schools.

Deal said that because of the prison education program, inmates feel “for the first time education has a meaningful upside to it.” That atttiude is passed down to their children, who are students in Georgia schools. “That change of mindset truly has opportunities for future generations.”

Rep. Calvin Smyre, D-Columbus, praised Deal’s continued focus on criminal justice reform. “I like the effort to place more emphasis on the GED and make people more productive,” he said.

Deal didn’t speak of any other programs beyond criminal justice reform.


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