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First of its Kind Program Provides Inmates the Opportunity to Earn Accredited High School Diplomas and Career Certificates

The Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) officially announced recently the expansion of the FDOC Online Campus program from eight correctional facilities to 15 in the next few months, providing inmates the opportunity to complete their high school education and earn a fully accredited diploma and career certificate. The FDOC Career Online High School is a partnership between Pensacola-based Smart Horizons Career Online Education, the first fully accredited, online school district in the world. The partnership with FDOC is the first of its kind in the nation for correctional facilities.

“Our work with Smart Horizon Career Online Education on this effort is a tangible expression of our commitment to the Florida Department of Correction’s vision of changing lives to ensure a safer Florida,” said Dr. John L. Lewis, Chief of Education for the Florida Department of Corrections’ Office of Re-Entry. “Earning a high school diploma is a very important event in people’s lives and this is especially so for inmates who have traditionally faced educational challenges.”

The program was launched by the Florida Department of Corrections in 2012 in partnership with Smart Horizons Career Online Education, the world’s first SACS accredited online school district. Inmates complete a career certificate as part of the program, so that they graduate with vocational skills that can be applied in a job post-release. The ultimate goal is to keep offenders from returning to prison.

“Our mission at Smart Horizons Career Online Education is to prepare students for entrance into the workplace by delivering quality, supportive, and career-based online education,” stated Dr Howard Liebman, CEO and Superintendent of the SHCOE district. “I can think of no better partner than the Florida Department of Corrections and their students for us to fulfill this mission. We couldn’t be more pleased to see the success and expansion of our program together as we work to help change the lives of these inmates.”

The new contract for the expanded program took effect on September 20 and the next Florida Department of Corrections facility to start using Career Online High School will be Everglades Correctional Institution in Miami-Dade County, FL. Then, six other institutions will be added to the program over the next few months to bring the total number of facilities in the FDOC system offering COHS to 15.

As Florida’s largest state agency, the Department of Corrections employs more than 22,000 members statewide, incarcerates more than 100,000 inmates and supervises nearly 146,000 offenders in the community.

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