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Ozaukee County Jail literacy program sets up inmates for success

Posted at 3:16 PM, May 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-23 17:55:47-04

Ozaukee County Jail is working to get inmates ready for the real world. Their literacy program is the only one like it in the state because it's funded through grants and donations.

This is Jaquan's first time behind bars, and he plans on making it his last. He is taking advantage of the jail literacy program.

"It's a great opportunity, ya know, especially for people that (are) incarcerated and feel like once they get here it's the end of the road," said Jaquan.

Jaquan is brushing up on his math, but he already got his General Education Diploma and High School Equivalency Diploma through the program.

"It gives you the courage, and it makes you want to, you know, enhance yourself or see what you're capable of," said Jaquan.

Sharon is working toward her GED.

"This is a serious goal to me, and I'm not playing about it," said Sharon.

She said the teachers keep her motivated.

"They're wonderful teachers; they are just awesome," said Sharon.

Dr. Patricia Puccinelli is the lead instructor.

"Something that can help these students get past the crimes that they've committed so that they can go out and be productive, get better jobs and not recidivate," said Puccinelli.

70% of inmates nationwide re-offend, but of those who go through this program, that number drops to 44%.

Students go to class three days a week, and the rest is on their own time.

"It gives you the courage, and it makes you want to, you know, enhance yourself or see what you're capable of." — Jaquan

"So it's up to them if they want to get through the program to do as much homework on the weekends as possible. The more they do, the quicker they go," said Puccinelli.

The program administrator accepts 10 students at a time. Jail administrator Capt. Jeff Sauer said there is usually a waiting list.

"This is a privilege. They don't have that right to come into the classroom, so they have to be on their best behavior," said Sauer.

About 335 inmates have gotten their GED or HSED through this jail literacy program since it started 27 years ago. Click here to learn more about the Ozaukee County Jail literacy program.