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PCSO News Release

Media Contact:
Eleazer, Carrie

Public Information Officer 
News Date: 9/20/2012 

 PCSO Launches Inmate Educational Program In Polk County Jails - “Keys to Staying Out of Jail” 

“Care, custody, and control of inmates means providing a bed, food, and a shelter for them.  But no longer will jail be a place where inmates simply lie around.  By providing inmates access to more education and training—now all day long—we hope to give inmates access to the ‘keys to stay out of jail,’ improve their lives, and lower crime in our community.”  – Sheriff Grady Judd 

Sheriff Grady Judd is pleased to announce today the launching of a new Inmate Educational Program within the two Polk County Jails – Central County Jail in Bartow, and South County Jail in Frostproof – called “Keys to Staying Out of Jail.” 

The program’s vision is to provide every inmate in Polk County with practical and academic education focused on improving their quality of life and that of the community around them. The goal of this program is to help inmates thrive as productive, crime-free citizens of our community, with zero cost to taxpayers. 

“When inmates come to the Polk County Jail, we will give them a key – not a key to escape, but a key to succeed when they are released.  We want to provide them with the opportunity & tools they can use to help change their lives; but it will ultimately be up to them.” – Sheriff Grady Judd


There are three components to the education program – 1. television programming; 2. no cost to taxpayers; and 3. classroom teaching.

Television programming encompasses the bulk of the program. Videos covering a variety of educational topics are scheduled to run on large-screen televisions from 6:00 a.m. until 11:00 p.m. in the day room areas of the jails, with breaks during meal times. Academic topics that will be presented include instructional videos about: Math, Science, Social Studies, Reading, Arithmetic, and Writing, with the goal of helping inmates prepare for the GED test. Health and better living information will also be broadcasted – with topics such as HIV and disease prevention; drug education and prevention; cleanliness; making better choices; love and help children; set good examples; etc.   

All facets of the new program are provided to inmates at no cost to taxpayers. Funding for materials is provided by the Inmate Welfare Fund and the SAO drug education and crime prevention fund. Volunteers will provide classroom-style teaching on a variety of topics.  Retired and current school teachers, church volunteers, and concerned citizens are graciously volunteering their time to help make a difference in inmates’ lives. 

Classroom teaching includes CPR instruction, GED preparation classes, and job skills training. Polk Works is  helping teach inmates how to better position themselves for success in the job market through resume building, how to find and apply for jobs, and interview techniques. The training also includes basic etiquette, grooming, and individual bearing and promptness. Additionally, the inmates will be provided with training on employer expectations such as attitude, being sober, courteous, diligent, and conscientious. 

“This program is the latest step in our holistic approach to reducing crime in Polk County. We began our approach in the jails by making jail a no-frills environment – we took away peanut butter, coffee, and milk, and replaced it with crackers, water, and powdered milk. We took away weights, basketball hoops, and entertainment television. Now we want to make the most of inmates’ stay by teaching them how to be better citizens.” – Sheriff Grady Judd 

This program would not be possible without the valuable partnerships of area ministers, the NAACP, Polk Works, the Office of the State Attorney for the 10th Judicial Circuit (State Attorney Jerry Hill), and local retired and current public educators. We need volunteers! If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Captain Rick Hohl at 863.534.6104 or rhohl@polksheriff.org.