BEND, Ore. -

The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office plans to expand a 2-month-old program to provide GED testing to inmates, one that already has seen five people obtain their degree while incarcerated.

Here's a news release from sheriff's Capt. Michael Espinoza.

In September 2013, the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office entered into an agreement with Pearson Vue a nationally recognized General Education Diploma (GED) testing service. 

The agreement allows the Sheriff’s Office to provide tutorial services and GED testing for inmates incarcerated at the Adult Jail.  All inmates are screened for eligibility and are selected to participate in this program based on their admission of not possessing a High School Diploma or GED.  Other determining factors include good conduct and their ability to demonstrate self initiative within the program. 

The Sheriff’s Office has consistently provided GED tutorial services for inmates who qualify; however, in the past, an inmate’s opportunity to test for a GED was limited and rarely occurred while they were incarcerated. 

The GED program being offered to inmates is consistently full to capacity and the Sheriff’s Office is committed to supporting those who want to obtain a GED through funding tutorial services and the test.  The tutorial services cost $25 per hour and the GED test cost is $155.  

The GED test consists of five components covering basic educational requirements.  Once completed, the results are immediate informing the inmate of a pass or fail. Since entering into the agreement with Person Vue, five inmates have successfully completed the requirements and obtained their GED while incarcerated. 

The Sheriff’s Office believes investment in programs such as GED testing will better prepare individuals for reintegration upon their release and be less likely to re-offend. 

Providing individuals with valuable tools, like an education, enhances their ability to support themselves and their families with increased employment opportunities.

The investment in this program has been overwhelmingly positive.  In addition to inmates receiving their GED, they improve their self-esteem and focus on positive behaviors instead of criminal thinking. 

Based on the success of this program to date, the Sheriff’s Office is expanding the program and extending testing services to inmates who participate in the tutorial services, but are released before they are able to complete the online test. 

Accommodations will be made for these individuals to finish the program and take the test at the Deschutes County Jail.