A new initiative will provide criminal offenders in Franklin and Johnson counties with the opportunity to seek rehabilitation through education.
Judge Sarah Capp of the Arkansas District Court and Arkansas Tech University-Ozark Campus have created a court referral program that will allow eligible individuals to avoid fines, community service or jail time by electing to attend adult education classes offered through ATU-Ozark.
“The intention of the program is to allow criminal offenders opportunities to better themselves and, in the process, avoid the financial burden caused by fines and take advantage of a fresh start," said Capp.
Flexible class scheduling, including the opportunity to participate in distance learning when possible, is designed to assist program participants in making a life transition.
Employed students will be required to attend a minimum of six hours per week, while all others will attend 12 hours per week. A minimum of 40 instructional hours plus testing will be required to complete the program. All students will pursue a level I State of Arkansas WAGE certificate, which includes digital literacy, financial literacy and workforce preparation activities. Students will also work on basic skills improvement in reading, writing and math to include preparation for GED attainment or college.
The classes will be offered free of charge. Students may be required to pay court fees and a monthly probation fee to participate.
“I am very excited about this program," said Regina Olson, director of adult education at ATU-Ozark. "We have been working for years to try to implement a program such as this in Franklin and Johnson counties in order to help reduce recidivism. It has been proven to be effective in other neighboring counties, resulting in less incarcerations and large savings to the county. We have a team prepared to help students who sign up to include court liaisons, instructors, teaching assistants and career life coaches. We want to help them put court behind them and move on to a better, more productive life.”
Call (479) 667-3520, send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.atu.edu/ozark/adult.php for more information about adult education services offered through ATU-Ozark.