The Education Division

The Department offers a variety of social service and education programs to a diverse population of male and female offenders. Our professional staff work hard to help inmates and detainees build academic and life skills that better prepare them to become productive members of society as they reenter their neighborhoods.

To help sustain its programs, the Department partners with agencies like Bunker Hill Community College, the Boston Public SchoolsBoston Medical Center, the Boston Center for Youth and Families, the Phillips Brooks House at Harvard, Boston and Youth Options Unlimited Boston, which focuses on post–release services for younger inmates.

Suffolk County Jail

Since the Suffolk County Jail is a pretrial holding facility, the length of stay is often brief and difficult to predict. Over 10,000 men are processed annually. Therefore, it is difficult to maintain a formal education program at the facility. Men are offered educational assistance through small groups facilitated in the housing units.

Groups such as: Creative Writing, Resume Writing, Current Events and Poetry are very popular among the detainees. Private tutoring is offered through community volunteers and the institutional Librarian facilitates the Jail Book Club to promote literacy.

The Department also works collaboratively with local high schools to provide a continuum of education for those men who are currently enrolled in school. Arrangements are made for the completion of coursework and tutors are provided so that the student will meet both educational benchmarks and graduation requirements.

House of Correction

The majority of educational services offered by the Department take place at the Suffolk County House of Correction (HOC) for a population with varying educational, social and rehabilitative requirements. In general, the average reading level of an inmate or pre–trial detainee is slightly higher than 7th grade level. The average math ability is at a 5th grade level. A motivated inmate can take classes in many different areas of study and at several different education levels.

At the HOC, experienced educators teach enhanced educational, vocational and behavioral programs to male and female inmates and detainees. These classes include:

Literacy I

This course is for beginning readers and for students reading at or below the fourth (4th) grade level. Most LIT I students have had difficulty in the past learning how to read, spell, and write. This course is designed for them to successfully develop basic skills.

Literacy II

This course is for students who test at the 4–8th grade reading level. The teacher will work with students to strengthen their basic skills in math, reading and language. Generally, the class works toward preparation for a GED program. LIT II refreshes basic skills and helps develop good study habits.

Title I

This program is provided to students who are younger than twenty–one (21) years of age and still need a diploma. Classes concentrate on reading and building other academic skills necessary to obtain a GED.

ASE (Adult Secondary Education)/HSE(High School Equivalency)

The Adult Secondary Education/High School Equivalency program prepares students assessed at a reading level of 8th grade or higher to earn their high school equivalency diploma or HiSET. Working together as a class and as individuals, students are prepared for the five (5) areas of the HiSET test: language arts reading, language arts writing, science, social sciences, and mathematics. The HiSET test is given at the facility, is offered on an on-going basis and is open enrollment.

PSED (Post-Secondary Education) Requires High School Credential


      1. College Bound Dorchester SCHC Directions for Corrections Through College Connections: The mission of this program is to equip incarcerated students with the skills, attitude and experience to graduate from college. This program employs a place-based strategy to identify, engage and serve the most influential and disconnected youth (ages 18-27) to create a shift in the system – moving from a small number of individuals in Dorchester that are college bound to a community where the majority is pursuing higher education. The academic component prepares individuals for success in reading and math to score college ready on the Accuplacer entrance exam. The personal/life skills component enhances attitude, motivation, self-discipline and social intelligence.


      1. College Writing:  This class offers instruction and practice in writing required on applications, by certain kinds of jobs, college entrance exams, and college. It is also for anyone who just likes to write. The class requires reading and writing outside of class-time, and individual conferences with the instructor.


Special Education (SPED)

The Special Education Program helps inmates who are between the ages of eighteen (18) and twenty–two (22). Students must also have a history of Special Education and/or have a current and valid Special Education Plan from a public school.

English for Speakers of Other Language (ESOL)

The ESOL program serves students whose native language is not English. Students acquire basic as well as more advanced knowledge and command of the English language. The ESOL program is offered in three (3) levels to students from various ethnic groups and backgrounds. By working in groups and in one–on–one tutoring, students acquire the basics of the English language. Classes range from non–speakers of English to fluent speakers who need to develop their writing skills.


This program is intended to improve parenting skills. Fathers learn about developmental issues, communication skills and health topics in order to improve their children’s lives. Some students in this program also participate in the Fathers Read Aloud program, taping themselves reading a book to their child. The child then receives the book and the tape. “Children’s Book Club for Fathers” is a part of this class.

Freedom From Violence

This extraordinary program is an intensive course on the origins, causes and nature of violence and how to make the transition from violent thinking and behaviors to a non–violent lifestyle.

Basic Keyboarding

Male and female inmates can attend class three evenings per week for a total of 48 classes. After completing keyboarding they are eligible for Desktop Publishing or Computer Literacy.

Computer Literacy

Designed for male inmates. This class meets for one hour daily during 16 weeks sessions. Inmates will learn more advanced computer concepts such as Microsoft Office, FrontPage Web Design and Visual Basics.

Computer Repair

This program is designed for male inmates. This program meets daily for one and a half hours. Over the course of six months, students will receive 180 hours of instruction enabling them to troubleshoot, diagnose and develop maintenance procedures.

Desktop Publishing

This program is designed for both male and female inmates. Inmates can attend class three evenings per week for a total of 48 classes.

Writing Workshop

The writing teacher focuses on memoir writing to assist students in improving their skills. End product is a booklet of writing with a public reading.

Education/Career Counseling

Counselors meet with and assist inmates and detainees in making good career and school decisions.

Job Search/Resume Writing

This class teaches participants how to present themselves to employers, in person and in writing. It also provides resources for help in finding a job.


Tutoring services are provided during the day and in the evening by students from Boston College and Harvard University. Tutoring is mostly one on one and focuses on the individual needs and interests of the student.

Library Programs

At intervals, programs like film class, poetry, chess club, book club are held in the library.

Food Sanitation

This program is designed for both male and female inmates. This is a 21–hour, Seven week program that provides instruction in the general regulations governing sanitation. Upon successful completion of an exam, the inmate receives a NIFI (National Institute of Food Industry) Certificate, well recognized in food service, and it is good for five years toward gainful employment in the food service industry.

Printing Program / Graphic Technology

This program is designed for male inmates only. Meets five days per week for two periods a day. This is an entry level program designed to give the inmate an overall view of the printing industry, stressing the basic procedures necessary to develop, bind, finish and market a product with our state of the art Macintosh G4 7200 computers.