Harris County, HCC-Northeast dedicate Crites Street jail

Don Maddox

More than 100 county, city, community and educational leaders gathered recently as the Harris County Sheriffs Department and Houston Community College-Northeast officially unveiled their new inmate education facility at 4627 Crites Street.
More than a dedication, the event was a celebration heralding nearly 30 years of cooperation between the two entities to provide education for the county’s inmates.

The county-college partnership began in 1973 when the Sheriffs Department asked the college to begin teaching Adult Basic Education (ABE)/GED classes under a Texas Education Agency Adult Literacy Grant.

Three years later, HCC was asked to provide vocational classes at the Atascosita jail site. From that beginning, the inmate education program has grown into one of the largest of its kind in the nation.

While expressing pride over the Crites ‘campus’ during the dedication, Sheriff Tommy Thomas discussed the effect education and training has on the recidivism rate of inmates. Although figures are not available on the success rate of graduates from the Harris County-HCC program, Sheriff Thomas said: “my years in law enforcement have led me to believe that inmates are more likely to go straight if they leave here with marketable skills.”

Dr. Margaret Forde, president of HCC-Northeast, expressed the importance of inmate education/training to provide inmates with marketable skills for re-entry into the workforce. She congratulated the Sheriffs Department on a model partnership, and complimented the faculty, staff and Sheriffs Department liaisons for the excellent delivery of instruction.

Currently, in addition to ABE/GED/ESL, courses are offered include: auto body repair, auto mechanics, HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning), office practices, consumer electronics, culinary arts (chef), cabinet making, general construction, building maintenance, graphic arts, commercial arts, tailoring, upholstery, floor and wall coverings, welding, workplace literacy, leather trades, and horticulture.