J. Reuben Long Detention Center now allows inmates to earn their GED while serving time.
The jail is working with the Horry County Adult Education Center to offer GED testing inside. Education Center employees administered the first GED tests in December.
Inmates aren’t allowed to use internet inside the jail, so the Education Center brings in laptops with the tests already downloaded on them. After inmates complete the exam, the laptops are taken back to the education center so the tests can be scored.
“An inmate that doesn’t have an education is much more likely to return to jail,” said Chaplain Eddie Hill, Director of Programs and Services at the detention center.
For some inmates, getting an education starts with earning a GED. Though the Horry County Education Center has provided GED training at the jail for 15 years, Hill noticed it wasn’t making much of a difference on the outside.
“Inmates were leaving here, they would work hard while they were here, preparing for their GED, they would leave here and they weren’t finishing it,” he said.
“Once they’re released, life happens, you have to get back to, I got to make money, I have children, whatever the case may be. And you put that GED on the back burner,” said Jacinta Moultrie, Community Outreach Specialist with the Adult Education Center.
Moultrie and the Director of the Education Center administer the exam to the inmates. They come to the jail and administer the test twice a month. In the last five months, about 20 inmates have earned their GED. She said leaving jail with a GED can mean the difference between getting a job, or making another bad decisions.
“Many jobs you got to have a high school diploma or a GED. So being able to have that and make an honest living, it can be that one little thing that puts them back on the right track,” she said.
And believe it or not, “we have some of our highest scores come from our jail. So they are more than capable of doing things if we get them back on track and pointed in the right direction,” Moultrie said.
Chaplain Hill said GED testing in the jail isn’t just a win for the inmates, it’s a win for the whole county.
“The more inmates that we can help while they’re here, to keep them from coming back, the less it costs us to operate this jail,” he said.