Pennington County Jail inmates pursue GEDs

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA TV) - Pennington County Jail inmates get a chance to pursue a high school diploma with the re-institution of an educational program.

It's been at least a decade since the Pennington County Jail offered inmates the ability to get their GED while in custody.

The system is copied after a program being conducted in the juvenile center through the Kaplan Program.

The program currently has 50 inmates enrolled (25 men and 25 women), with another 15 men on a waiting list.

"I don't think you can be the best version of yourself without a high school diploma or a GED," Brooke Haga says. "It's obviously limiting. This gives us an opportunity to help the inmates have a better start when they leave the facility."

Once the inmates complete the program, the jail might host a graduation ceremony, complete with traditional caps and gowns; and the inmates' immediate family members.

The GED tests consist of four separate subjects costing $20 each. The costs related to this program are minimal and are covered by a combination of direct pay by the inmates and from revenue generated by the inmate commissary program.

Inmates are allowed to purchase items through the jail commissary. This generates revenue for Pennington County to offset costs of operating the jail.