Over the last 15 years, the population of female inmates in Mississippi has nearly tripled. The Central Mississippi Correctional Facility, the state's only women's prison, houses roughly 1000 women. Antanikah Le Laind has been in prison since January of 1997 and has only 75 more days to serve. Le Laind says business technology class has changed her life.
Sitting next to her computer, Le Laind said, "When I was in college I was going to be a lawyer now when I go home I'm going to change it and be a computer technician. I developed a passion for computers by being in this class." Business Technology is one of 5 vocational education opportunities available at Central Mississippi Correctional Facility.
Inmates can also learn about Cosmetology, Family Dynamics, Industrial Sewing and Upholstery. Prisoners can also earn their GED through the facility. "They view school as a last chance to get a start in life and we don't have discipline problems," said Education director, Joan Strain. Strain says there's about 230 inmates in the prison's vocational and adult basic education programs. School is not mandatory for inmates but most women want to go and there's waiting lists for every program. "I came from a public school background and this is so much easier than working in public schools. There are no disciplinary problems whatsoever... they're so grateful to be here," Strain said. Just like Antanikah Le Laind, who can now type 64 words a minute and knows all the advanced features for four major softwares. Now that she's certified in computer skills, she can't wait to get a job. "We get to look through want ads and everything they ask for we can do," Le Laind said.