The Arkansas Department of Correction (ADC) began in 1838 as the first penitentiary in the state. Today, the ADC consists of 20 institutions and administrative offices with approximately 5,200 employees responsible for over 17,000 inmates statewide. All their adult correctional facilities are fully accredited.
A high turnover rate of over 42% for correctional officers at the ADC was placing strain on the agency. The University of Arkansas at Little Rock Department of Criminal Justice conducted a study on the reasons behind the high turnover rate and possible strategies to help reduce the number. The study analyzed the ADC and its training program and found there was a great need to improve system-wide leadership and supervision.
As a result, the agency adopted a strategic workforce plan that included the goal of attracting and retaining quality staff who were highly trained, motivated, and dedicated. The ADC therefore improved working conditions, pay, benefits, and more. However, the ADC continued to find that at the core of everything they did was training—training was the backbone of the agency’s employee development.
The even bigger challenge for the ADC was to find room in a tight budget for this training, which is true of most correctional agencies.
Attempts at implementing a video conference training network proved useful for delivering data to a large group, but was an expensive delivery system that was very limiting in usability. The system required training additional staff to use the equipment and was complicated to schedule and maintain.
In collaboration with Relias, the ADC launched a comprehensive online learning solution called eCADEMY in December of 2010. Through its first year of operation, the ADC had over 1,000 employees take over 18,000 hours of training. Over the past six years, the ADC has increased its training usage by over 400% and in 2016 alone, over 3,000 employees took approximately 80,000 hours of training.
“Relias has given us an opportunity to provide training to our staff at their units without even leaving the facility. That has helped us out tremendously. [Online training] is a good solution for our agency.”
Feedback from officers has been positive. Dexter Payne, Deputy Director-Institutions for the ADC, states that he “enjoys the courses. I like the fact that I have an option to take training without leaving my desk and/or go to the Training Academy for every class.” Dexter outlined the following benefits from the eCADEMY:
- Low training cost per employee
- Reduction in travel costs (estimating a savings of $42,445 in 2016)
- Less overtime pay for training
- Consistent, uniform lesson plans
- Flexibility in training schedules and programs