The Roanoke City Jail's educational program is available to all inmates housed in the jail and is supported by a Rehabilitation Counselor, one full time and one part time teacher and community agencies and volunteers. Funding for the part time teacher is provided by funds from the Adult Education Act (revised by Public Law 100-297). All inmates are tested prior to enrollment in the program.
Due to low educational levels of the majority of the inmates, the program objectives are basic adult education, learning to read and write as well as obtaining a GED. The jail provides a classroom, educational computers and related equipment, program rooms, materials, supplies and support as needed. Inmates are taught in a classroom setting, with those in need of individual help assigned tutors.
Qualified community volunteers from the First Baptist Church, Street Gerald's Catholic Social Action Committee, Hollins University and Roanoke College serve as tutors to assist the inmates with their educational studies and instruction. The Rehabilitation Counselor is responsible for the coordinating and scheduling of all educational activities and the placement of inmates in the program.
In 1991, the Virginia General Assembly adopted federal legislation and passed House Joint Resolution 367 sponsored by Delegate Clifton A. Woodrum. This law requires local jails to provide special educational services to inmates to the age of 22. The Roanoke City Sheriff's Office has worked closely with local school administrators to implement plans to comply with federal special education requirements. Presently, the Roanoke City Jail is working cooperatively with the Roanoke City Public Schools to provide services to eligible inmates. A full-time special education teacher provides instruction to the inmates. The usual procedure in providing educational services begins with an inmate's committal.
A classification officer gathers information concerning the inmate's past education history. If the inmate is age 22 or less, does not have a high school diploma or a GED certificate and is in need of services, he/she will be interviewed further to determine requirements. The teacher then obtains any records pertaining to the process of determining eligibility. Information is shared with other facilities to which the inmate may be transferred to avoid any duplication of services.
The jail has a full time librarian responsible for ensuring all inmates are given an opportunity to participate in the library program. The jail has a library from which the inmates may check out educational, religious, fiction, non-fiction and magazines, while providing access to legal reference and standard reference books. The library program also has access to materials from the Roanoke City Library System and the Roanoke Bar Association Law Library.
The library program provides a typewriter and supplies, allowing for legal research conducted at the inmate's request. Inmates housed on the 2nd and 3rd floors are escorted to the library and those inmates housed on the fourth floor are serviced by a mobile library cart operated by the librarian. Security permitting, legal research is available to all inmates housed within the jail.