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Plano Senator: Online Prison Classes Could Save $$

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An inmate works in a prison computer laboratory. (credit: Yuri Cortez/AFP/Getty Images)

An inmate works in a prison computer laboratory. (credit: Yuri Cortez/AFP/Getty Images)

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FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – As part of a plan to cuts costs for the state, a North Texas lawmaker is suggesting giving some Texas prison inmates access to the internet.

The state’s budget problems could lead to cutbacks in a program designed to help prisoners get their GED’s while they’re behind bars.

Plano Senator Florence Shapiro, chair of the Senate Education Committee, thinks the state can save some money by holding classes online.

Prison officials say the plan is doable, but there could be cause for worry. “Currently inmates don’t have access to computers or to the internet. Ya know, obviously there’s some security concerns there,” Michelle Lyons, with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, said.

Currently, the state spends about $128 million each year on education programs for inmates.

But Michelle Lyons with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice says most of them are not allowed to go on-line.

Lyons clarified that while no inmate has complete internet access some are allowed to log on. “Currently in some of the classrooms and vocational programs there is some limited computer access.”

State prison officials say they’re willing to work with lawmakers on the plan.

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