Educational program expanding for Arizona inmates

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -- The Arizona Department of Corrections is offering recently released inmates classes on such things as substance abuse, developing job skills and following a budget.

Arizona's prison population growth rate has stabilized, so authorities have been able to dedicate additional funding to reduce recidivism.

The Arizona Daily Star reports that nearly 18 percent of Arizona's 40,000 inmates are enrolled in some sort of an educational program, spending three hours a day in a classroom setting. The department's educational budget for fiscal year 2013 is $18 million.

It covers the tuition, fees, books, equipment and teacher salaries for the 1,500 inmates currently in a mandatory class aimed at ensuring they have at least an eighth-grade education.

There are 2,900 inmates working toward a general equivalency diploma and 2,000 learning a trade.