LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Authorities say on any given day, the Lubbock County Detention Center houses anywhere from 1,000 to 1,200 inmates, which gives a large population of offenders plenty of time, to do nothing at all - something Lubbock County Sheriff Kelly Rowe, says he hopes will change with this new pilot program.
"The individuals that tend to follow these paths in terms of their education level, most of them haven't graduated high school, their ability to manage a checkbook, live off a budget. Do they even have identification? Those type of things that are going to be essential to their success once they're released and hopefully put into a position where they're not re-offending," Rowe said.
Education and Rehabilitation Coordinator Tammy Smith says the program is already making a difference after less than two months in use.
"It's a connection for them. When you have the opportunity to sit and think about why you're in here and how you can change, and having the tools right there in front of you. You make the choice to make the changes you need. And with the tools that we have, with our tablets, it's only giving them the opportunity to grow and to change," says Smith.
There are 40 tablets which hold more than 400 educational programs each. From political science, to psychology, even yoga and anger management. However the tablets have zero access to social media.
Rowe says the goal is to give the inmates something to focus on and learn from, an education the inmates say they're already seeing the results of.
"You find yourself interested in things, you didn't normally, or you didn't think you were interested in."
For one inmate, he's now hoping to make big changes once he gets out, after learning about how to get his commercial driving license.
"Instead of just doing nothing, you get to learn something…it's always good to learn something. Well, I want to drive, hopefully. I want to start my own business, get a couple trucks going."
Correction officer Jorge Gonzalez says since the tablets were passed out he's seen a big difference in inmate's behavior.
"It was pretty crazy inside here. A lot of arguments, fighting, disagreements…but since these tablets came into play, it's kind of ceased," Gonzalez said.
He even says these tablets have improved his relationship with the inmates.
"I have no problem going up to them, talking to them, conversating with them, laughing, joking with them, in a positive way. They'll ask me question about things that are going on with their tablets. If I can answer it I will, If I can't then I'll find somebody who can help them out."
Rowe says along with the improvement in their behavior, the additional silver lining is good news for taxpayers.
"This will not cost the taxpayers anything. This is being solely funded through the inmate commissary fund which is generated by the sales of inmate commissary, by the inmates."
Rowe says he hopes in educating inmates and helping them stay out of jail, then hopefully that will in turn save taxpayer dollars.