Sumter-Lee Regional Detention Center
is partnering with local agencies
and businesses to offer GED, Work-
Keys, carpentry and other programs to
inmates in an attempt to reduce …
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inmates in an attempt to reduce the
amount of repeat offenders.
“This is not a prison but a detention
center,” Sumter County Sheriff Anthony
Dennis said. “We just detain people.”
The goal is to reduce the recidivism
rate, or the number of offenders who
return to jail, and to hopefully see a reduction
in unemployment in the county,
Dennis said this is one of the
things he wanted to do when he
started considering taking leadership
of the jail last year.
“We need folks to walk out with
some type of future,” he said.
Most jobs require applicants to
have WorkKeys certification, he
Through a partnership with
Sumter County Adult Education,
inmates can begin studying for
the GED and WorkKeys tests and
prepare for better opportunities.
Dennis said inmates will also
be able to take welding and culinary
courses in the future.
The courses are free to the inmates,
male and female, and do
not pose any additional costs to
the taxpayers, he said.
Dennis said most of the people
in the detention center are being
held for family court issues and
People should know they have
other options than to return to
crime when they get out, he said.
Inmates aren’t forced to take
part in these programs, Dennis
said, so it is the inmates themselves
choosing to do better.
The instructors are just as passionate
about making sure their
students have a brighter future.
Alexandra Baten, the primary
GED and WorkKeys instructor,
said she teaches soft skills as
well as prepares students for the
“I don’t want them to do so well
here and have nowhere to go
when they leave,” she said.
Baten said the course has been
a success for her students so far,
and there is even a waiting list.
Though studying for the GED
and WorkKeys tests could take
months, Chief Deputy Hampton
Gardner said, those who leave the
jail before taking the test can finish
their classes at Sumter County
These programs allow the inmates
to pick up some skills and
do some great things, he said.
Some former inmates have
even sent letters to the sheriff’s
office thanking their instructors
for helping them get into the program,
The detention center also offers
counseling to encourage inmates
to find better paths rather than
returning to jail after they are released,
“And we are seeing fewer people
in jail,” Gardner said. “That’s
what we want.”
Sheriff Dennis said he is also
working with local agencies to
help inmates find employment
through work release.
“We’re seeing a success with all
programs,” Dennis said. “I’m excited
about the future of the detention
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