The Virtual High School Program
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15,000 people ages 17 to 21 leave the Cook County Jail every year, and less than half have a high school diploma. As they face issues of drug use, mental illness, and criminal histories, these inmates are in a high risk category for recidivism. Completing high school helps set these young men and women on a path to success, rather than down a road of criminal behavior. The High School Diploma Program (HSDP) provides computer-based high school classes for credit to inmates between the ages of 17 and 21. Participants are simultaneously enrolled in HSDP and one of five programs in the Sheriff’s Office: the Day Reporting Center, the Sheriff’s Women’s Justice Programs, the Pre-Release Center, Boot Camp, or the IMPACT program in Division 6. The inmates are court-ordered to participate in these programs, which supplement academic work with life skills courses and cognitive therapy. Once they have fulfilled all required credits, the students graduate with a diploma from their neighborhood Chicago Public Schools high school.