On May 14th, 2012, Smart Horizons Career Online Education (SHCOE; www.shcoe.org) went live at Florida’s Madison Correctional Institution. This marked SHCOE’s first step as an official provider of online education and career training for the Florida Department of Corrections. The Madison program is the first online secondary education program at any correctional facility in the United States.

“From the time we received our AdvancED/SACS accreditation in February of 2011 as the world’s first private online school district, we have had this goal of serving inmates in correctional facilities,” said Dr. Howard Liebman, CEO and Superintendent of SHCOE. “Now the reality is here and we are already seeing a positive impact on the inmates in Madison. The online program we offer is innovative, secure, and cost-effective and offers an effective approach to lowering recidivism and preparing inmates to rejoin society in a productive manner. This is our first step in being the leading provider of secondary online education and career training for corrections facilities across the U.S.”

According to U.S. Bureau of Justice statistics, 75 percent of inmates in U.S. correctional facilities do not have a high school diploma. Before SHCOE went live in Madison, the Florida Department of Corrections had only offered the GED option for adult inmates seeking to further their education. “The administration at the Madison correctional facility have been very enthusiastic about what the SHCOE program could mean for their inmates,” Liebman said. “It opens up a whole new world of possibilities.”

Dr. Liebman said that the most popular SHCOE career track options among the Madison inmates have been Transportation Services and the General Career Preparation elective track.
The certificate program in Transportation Services teaches and prepares students to obtain a Commercial Drivers License (CDL) and employment as a truck driver and/or commercial driver. The General Career Prep program provides students with knowledge that they can apply to a wide variety of job settings, giving them the skills to advance in any field or course of study.

As part of the AdvancED/SACS accredited online high school program, inmates have the opportunity to complete high school elective coursework for their career certificates and high school academic coursework to earn an 18-credit, regionally-accredited high school diploma.

“We have high hopes that this exciting new approach to improving inmate employability will pay long-term dividends to Florida taxpayers by enhancing public safety and further reducing our inmate populations, which translates to greater monetary savings an