East Mississippi Community College’s Adult Education Launch Pad is now offering high school equivalency diploma classes to inmates at the Noxubee County Adult Detention Center. The classes are being taught at EMCC’s Macon Center, at left, which was relocated from an adjacent trailer, at right. Plans are to renovate the trailer for other EMCC classes.

August 21, 2019

East Mississippi Community College’s Adult Education Launch Pad has partnered with the Noxubee County Adult Detention Center to help inmates obtain their high school equivalency diplomas.

The inmates are transported to EMCC’s Macon Center four times a week for two-hour long Adult Education classes.

“I am so grateful they are here because they are really eating up everything we have to offer,” EMCC Adult Education instructor Lavonne Thompson said. “They just jumped right in. They are doing everything I ask them to do and are loving it.”

So far, five inmates are taking Adult Education classes at the Macon Center.

In February, EMCC began offering expanded hours and services out of its new location in Macon at 198 Washington St. Prior to that, a single-wide trailer adjacent to the new location was used to teach Adult Education classes.

In March, officials with the Noxubee County Sheriff’s Department approached EMCC Macon Center Director Amanda Crawford with the idea of providing Adult Education classes to inmates. She directed the request to EMCC Adult Education Director Dr. O’Neil Wright.

“He was able to get the program going from there,” Crawford said. “I am excited the inmates are here. I want them to feel welcome. Some of them are scheduled to be released from jail soon and I would love it if they obtain their high school diplomas before then.”

Noxubee County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Kenneth Stallings, who was guarding the inmates during a recent class, said it is a good program.

“A lot of our inmates don’t have a high school diploma and when I would ask them what they planned to do once they got out of jail, they were like, ‘I don’t know,’” Stallings said. “I told them they need to get their GED so they can be one step closer to going to college.”East Mississippi Community College Adult Education instructor Lavonne Thompson works with inmates from the Noxubee County Adult Detention Center, who are taking high school equivalency classes at the EMCC Macon Center.

The inaugural group of inmates began taking the Test for Adult Basic Education in early August to assess their academic performance levels and recently started their first classes. They will be able to take their high school equivalency test at the Macon Center once they are ready.

“I always wanted to get my GED, but I wasn’t financially able and was just doing things — caught up in the world, hanging out with friends,” a female inmate taking the adult education classes said. “Now, I really need to get it done so I can get a job once I get out of jail.”

Stallings said he has seen an improvement in the inmates’ attitudes since they began taking the classes.

“They are more excited about coming here than anything,” Stallings said. “They look forward to coming to class. It is a way for them to get out of jail for a couple of hours and get some fresh air and learn at the same time. I think it is motivational for them and lets them know somebody does care about them.”

Thompson said the inmates are good students.

“They are even excited about homework,” Thompson said. “That, for me, was refreshing. Normally, students don’t like homework.”

For more information about other services provided at the EMCC Macon Center, call 662.243.1784 or 662.726.5220, or email Crawford at acrawford@eastms.edu.