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Blog // Connect Ohio

Richland Correctional Institution ECO Training Part 1: Reintegration Platform

By Lyndsey Kleven

 

Richland Correctional Institution (RCI) is a rehabilitation and correctional institution located in Mansfield, Ohio, housing just over 2,500 inmates who hold up to medium security status. The facility was sanctioned as a rehabilitation institution with the focus of giving inmates meaningful activities for 8 hours a day. RCI partnered with Connect Ohio to offer the Every Citizen Online (ECO) basic computer training course to its inmates, to provide them with the computer skills they need to be successfully reintegrated into society.

“They really like it and it’s something that they may have never been exposed to,” said Matt Williams, infrastructure specialist for Richland Correctional Institution. “A lot of them have never had this type of formal training, even though it is self-paced, walking them through, ‘this is a mouse,’ and ‘this is a keyboard’ is important.”

The inmates must log-on to the computers they use and are not allowed to access the Internet. When the inmates are doing the Connect Ohio training, the program is locked into a local computer network.

“It’s a very secure environment and it’s a good way to give them the tools they need without requiring the Internet,” said Williams.

After an inmate goes through the training module and feel they have a good knowledge of computers, RCI administers a test from the Connect Ohio program. If the inmate passes they earn a completion certificate, which is great incentive for many.

RCI uses Connect Ohio as baseline training that inmates must complete before taking any other reintegration initiative training courses, such as more advanced classes in Microsoft Office or Adobe Creative Suites.

“There is the Internet portion, explaining e-mail and how the Internet works, some of the younger guys know that stuff, but a lot of the older population guys have been incarcerated long enough that they have never seen that,” said Williams. “That’s huge because there is all this technology and not everyone has been exposed to it.”

RCI originally took 26 inmates with previous computer experience through the ins and outs of the Connect Ohio curriculum and tested them on what they learned. Those who showed an interest and were able to pass the test were then asked to become program facilitators, guiding other inmates through the training and being available to answer questions.

Training is available with facilitators on hand in the pathway resource lab, or in the dormitory area of the prison where computers are available for inmate usage in a common living space. They are allowed to sign up for computer time, where all of their actions are traceable, to run through the self-paced training on their own.

“If they do no other training besides the basic Connect Ohio training, we feel it sets a good base for them to go out into society with,” said Williams. “Whether they are working in a warehouse and need to know what a computer is and how to interact with it, to filling out an application online.”

For more information about the Every Citizen Online program, click here

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