Jail Education Programs

The Boulder county jail host a variety of educational and other programs for inmates.

English as a Second Language (ESL)

  • Instruction in rudimentary English for all non-English inmates provided by student instructors from the University of Colorado International English Center
  • Instructor helps each student determine his/her individual goals

GED Preparation & Testing

  • Instruction provided by the jail's Education Director for grades 9-12
  • Preparation for the GED exam
  • Students advance at least one grade level for every thirty (30) hours of instruction

Additional Programming was added in 2008 as a result of the Development and Creation of the Jails Transition and Re-Entry Program.

Re-Entry Classes for Transition and Women

Abriendo Puertas Opening Doors (in Spanish):

Participants will learn about the laws in Colorado and in the United States regarding the penal system, driving, immigration and naturalization, and human rights, as well as receive a list of resources and services available in Boulder County.

Addiction and It’s Physical Effects:

In the first of three modules, participants will learn about physiological effects of alcohol and drugs, clarify values, discuss the pros and cons of specific behaviors and the effects on family and relationships, work on problem solving, and set goals for change. The second module is action-oriented, for participants who are ready to make a behavior change, and the third employs traditional skills building and relapse prevention strategies targeting particular processes crucial for movement through preparation, action and longer-term maintenance.

Addictions and Substances:

Participants will review the physiological effects of nicotine, prescription drugs, club drugs, inhalants, methamphetamine, cocaine, alcohol, marijuana, and heroin.

Alcoholics Anonymous:

Participants share their experience with anyone seeking help with a drinking problem and follow the AA program set forth in the Twelve Steps.

Anger Management:

Participants will learn about behavioral methods for dealing with the anger in the moment, how to uncover the feelings under the anger that results a blow-up, and bodily awareness of arousal as a precursor to actual behavior.

Anger Triggers:

Participants will learn about what feelings trigger anger and learn how to manage them.

Bible Study:

Topics to be covered will be chosen by the class. In the past participants have studied the role of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the Trinity, evolution v. creationism, genealogical lines, God’s Word v. human logic, cultural differences and changes, and many others.

Book Club:

There are two book clubs within the jail. One is held in Transition for the men’s module and one is held in Building C Dorm C for the Women Community Workers. All book club participates (inmates) must read and be ready to discuss books supplied by the Boulder Public Library and volunteers from the Book club. All books must have a meaning and a purpose for behavioral change or have a theme reflecting a change.


Volunteers from BoulderReads! work with low-literacy participants individually and occasionally in small groups.

Bridges to Life:

Participants will understand the impact their crimes have had on victims, family, friends, their children, and the community through classroom activities, discussion, and victim panels.

Building Social Networks:

Participants will learn Building Support Networks in Recovery.
This class involves interaction between group members to identify and challenge what characteristics in other people will help/hurt their recovery efforts. Through experiential learning, members explore their contributions to other relationships and what they do to damage them.

Catholic Church:

Weekly Catholic service.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT):

Participants will learn the relationship between thoughts affecting emotions effecting behavior is shown in this group. Topics include working with thinking errors, thought distortions, breathing retraining, automatic thoughts and beliefs and other.

Church (Spanish):

Weekly Christian service. Communication Ideas for: Participants will learn Communication Roadblocks, Repairing Relationships, Communication Styles, Mapping Worksheets.


Participants will learn about characteristics of healthy and dysfunctional families, unspoken rules of dysfunctional families, survival roles that children take, self-destructive behaviors resulting from their families of origin, personal boundaries, caretaking, controlling others, and obsessive thoughts and behaviors.

Coping Skills:

Participants will learn how to accept feedback from others, practice effective communication, learn how to escape from cravings, find ways to reduce stress, learn how to handle temptation, improve decision-making abilities, build healthy personal relationships.

Coping Skills:

Seeking Safety: Participants focus on an integrated treatment of PTSD and substance abuse, with safety as the first priority. They will focus on ideals, with content areas in cognitive, behavioral, interpersonal, and case management.

Criminal and Addictive Thinking:

Participants will discuss their criminal and addiction history, become aware of their inner maps, and learn to think about their thinking and behaviors.

Criminal and Addictive Thinking (Spanish):

Participants will discuss their criminal and addiction history, become aware of their inner maps, and learn to think about their thinking and behaviors.

Current Events:

Participants will research a current event of their choice in newspapers, television, Newsweek magazine, and the radio, and present on them in class hours. Class discussion will follow, with an attempt at impartiality.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT):

This group focuses on emotional regulation through balancing rational mind with emotional mind in order to move to wise mind, or the balance of the two. Topics include inter-relationship skills, distress tolerance, meditation/relaxation techniques, and other.


Participants will recognize that denial has deep roots in their daily lives, explore how their pattern of denial has grown, learn how a faulty memory keeps them in denial, examine defenses and how they have kept them from seeing the impact of their substance dependence, use the Johari Window to recognize their own denial and learn how to ask and receive assistance from others, and consider how they denied their substance dependence.

Domestic Violence:

Participants will learn what constitutes domestic violence and study techniques to control anger and negative communication behaviors, positive methods of communication, conflict resolution, power issues, healthy boundaries, and fair fighting. This is an education class and not considered therapy.

El Cambio:

(The Change) Fotonovela Participants will learn the consequences of drinking too much and recuperating after a tragedy. Based on the history of “Mario” from the U.S. Department of Health and Human services center for substance abuse treatment.

Employment Skills:

Participants will learn to examine the role of work. Explore willingness to learn. Learn to understand areas of interest and evaluate the employment skill set. They will prepare for the application and interviewing process and learn how to plan for career advancement.

English as a Second Language I:

Participants will work to improve their grammar, reading comprehension, and conversational skills using a variety of resources.

ESL Level II:

Participants in advanced conversation and writing skills are encouraged to read and discuss short stories and practice their writing skills.


Participants may be studying either English or Spanish. This is also considered to be the Spanish/English class. The class is divided into beginning and advanced learners. Students are paired up one English speaker and one Spanish speaker. This enables them to assist each other while building social and academic skills.

ESL/Writing Composition Level II and III:

Participants, primarily native Spanish speakers, will practice writing in English on subjects of their choice.

Evitando los Problemas con la autoridad/Eliminating problems with the authorities:

Participants will learn about their prior history and create new healthy strategies to Create positive future contact with authority figures.

Exploring Recovery from Addictions:

Participants will learn addiction terminology and the substances of abuse, and discuss triggers and relapse prevention, relationships between sex and substances, and various emotional components of addiction and recovery.

Family Ties:

Participants will learn strategies to evaluate their family relationships, reconnect with their families, and explore parental roles and responsibilities. Create and action plan for rebuilding important family relationships.

Feelings Thoughts and Mind Traps:


Focus Offender-In-Transition Program:

Participants who have 2-4 months remaining in jail will be matched one-on-one with mentors from Focus to create a reentry plan including job searching, housing, treatment, and support networks.

Footsteps Reentry

Four Agreements, The:

Participants will read the “Four Agreement Book and discuss speaking with integrity, not taking anything personally, not making assumptions and always doing their best.


After completing a pretest to determine what areas they need assistance in, participants are given hands-on instruction and assignments appropriate to their ability level.

GED (Spanish):

Participants will work alone or in groups on readings and exercises from GED study guides in math, science, social studies, or grammar.

Getting Close to Getting Out:

Participants will identify and analyze their fears, worries, anger, guilt, sadness, and confusing thoughts about their past criminal activities and future lifestyle.

Getting Close to Getting Out (Spanish):

Participants will identify and analyze their fears, worries, anger, guilt, sadness, and confusing thoughts about their past criminal activities and future lifestyle.

Getting Motivated to Change:

Participants will be introduced to Motivation 101, The Art of Self-Motivation, Staying Motivated and Making it second nature.


While nobody likes to experience the feelings of guilt, sometimes they can lead to positive results. On the other hand sometimes we feel guilt unnecessarily, and this can be harmful. Exercises in this book will teach how to decrease feelings of guilt to the Good by using the Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), the Albert Ellis’s method.

How to Study the Bible:

Participants will receive material providing an “Overview of the Five Inductive Study Steps,” as well as more detailed directions on each step, and 18+ hours of class time in which they will practice these steps and discuss a Book of the Bible chosen by the instructor.

Ideas for Better Communication:

Participants will explore obstacles to good communication, repairing relationships, different communication styles, and the effective use of mapping worksheets. The curriculum also includes a list of web resources.

Illness Management:

Participants will address issues of IMR (Illness management and Recovery: This group is mostly educational and teaches about various Axis I mental health disorders (Bi-polar, Depression, anxiety, Schizophrenia, etc.), and how to recover from them through medication management, support groups, and psychotherapy. In addition, instruction is given about substance abuse or why people “self medicate” due to their mental health disorder, and how to recover from substance abuse.

Job Skills:

Using the Opening Doors to New Beginnings (WORKFORCE resource guide for people with criminal records), Participant will learn how to Focus, Research, Develop Materials, Interview and Learn about how to “Get Promoted” They will also be given information on web resources.

Life Management:

Participants will identify how they used addictive behaviors to deal with stress and focus on how to better manage their stress, learn tips for good nutrition and healthy eating, get a clear picture of their financial situation, explore how to best manage their time on a daily basis, remember how to relax and have fun without the use of alcohol and other drugs, and learn eight habits that will help move them toward personal success.

Literature and the Law: (dubofsky)


Manejando tu estres/ Stress Management in Spanish:

Participants will learn skills to become more aware of stress patterns, examine stress and it’s effects and learn how to manage effectively.


Participants will meditate and practice yoga. Benefits of meditation include relaxation, focus, and a sense of general well-being.

Money Management:

Participants will discuss in a group how to read the deductions on their paycheck, the importance of having an emergency savings fund, good budgeting practices, and proper use of credit.

Motivation to Change (Spanish):

Participants will read and discuss a story about the consequences of drinking too much alcohol and recovery after a tragedy.

Motivation 101:

Participants will talk about the role of motivation in behavior change, the thought processes and action phases of change, strategies for strengthening commitment to change, and maintaining gains and focus on goals once the change process has started. The curriculum also includes a list of resources.

Narcotics Anonymous:

Participants share their experience with anyone seeking help with a substance abuse problem and follow the NA program set forth in the Twelve Steps.


Participants will learn effective negotiation skills such as bargaining, communicating, focusing on the problem rather than the people, being specific, and looking for mutual gain. They will also study joint problem solving and thinking of alternative solutions.


New inmates in Transition must attend Orientation. Participants will take the APT test to measure for substance abuse, violence, truthfulness, and motivation to change, then sign the Transition agreement and enroll in classes.

PTSD/Seeking Safety:

This group involves education and treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and how it relates to substance abuse. Addressing PTSD symptoms, how to work with the thought and feelings associated, retraumatization, grounding techniques and other, as well as how to abstain or manage substance use is instructed.

Parenting I (English):

Participants will receive information on child development and the importance of ages 0-3 and 13-15 as periods of intense physical development.

Parenting I (Spanish):

Participants will receive information on child development and the importance of ages 0-3 and 13-15 as periods of intense physical development.

Parenting II (English):

Participants will learn more about brain development and discipline strategies.

Parenting II (Spanish):

Participants will learn more about brain development and discipline strategies.

Peer Relationships:

Participants will consider their past and present relationships and the impact they have on their lives. Understand the differences between healthy and unhealthy relationships. Learn about the positive qualities and benefits of healthy relationships and learn how to handle social pressure, and build a positive support network.

Planning your Treatment Plan:

Participants will learn how to identify and learn how to problem solve to reach goals. Learn to break down problems into smaller steps to assist in relieving overwhelming feelings that are associated with giving up and giving into their addictions.

Razones para Cambiar: (Reasons to Change)

Participants will learn about “ One good place to Change” Where have they had problems in the past? What has been practiced so far and are they motivated to do so at this in their lives.

Re-Entry Class:

Participants will receive information on resources available in the community including shelters, rehabilitation/treatment programs, and where to obtain documentation and benefits, as well as experience a safe environment for them to process thoughts, emotions, and experiences occurring while transitioning out of jail into society.

Re-Entry Workshop:

Participants will address issues that cause recidivism: antisocial personality, thinking and relationships. They will also discuss issues that impact reentry into the community, such as housing, health, employment, sober recreation and relationships. Reasons to Change (Spanish): Participants will identify the habits they want to change, and create a recovery plan to overcome difficulties.

Recovery Activities English/Spanish:

Participants will learn the process of recovery, how to identify triggers for relapse and strategies for dealing with them, and the roles of support networks and spirituality in recovery.

Red Flags (English):

Participants will learn to identify their highest risk situations and warning signs, learn and practice new coping skills and apply them to those situations where they are at risk, and develop confidence that their new skills will work.

Red Flags (Spanish):

Participants will learn to identify their highest risk situations and warning signs, learn and practice new coping skills and apply them to those situations where they are at risk, and develop confidence that their new skills will work.

Release and Reintegration:

Participants will learn about criminal and addictive thinking, building a foundation for their future, setting housing goals, and their budget and free time, and create a plan for life after release.

Returning Home:

Recovery Activities Planning: Participants will create a schedule of activities to help them maintain a healthy and drug-free lifestyle after leaving the program.

Roots and Shoots:

Participants will learn how animals resolve conflict, control anger and destructive impulses, and use cooperation and empathy as a mirror for understanding human behavior.

Set Free Ministries:

Weekly Christian service.

Seeking Safety:

Participants will focus on treatment topics including: safety, PTSD, Detaching from emotional pain, when substances control them, asking for help, taking good care of themselves, compassion, red and green flags, honesty, recovery thinking, integrating the split self, commitment, creating meaning, community resources, setting boundaries in relationships, discovery, getting others to support their recovery, coping with triggers, respecting their time, healthy relationships, self-nurturing, and healing from anger.

Self Control:

Participants will learn how to understand the connection between criminal behavior and self- control. Consider the consequences of lack of self- control. Explore five feelings that can lead to trouble. Learn effective self-control strategies and establish a self-control action plan.


Participants will learn what self-worth is and how it is connected to substance abuse. Consider how self-talk influences self worth. Define core values and learn the importance of sticking to them. Focus on the benefits of living free from secrets. Examine the importance of self-care and how it impacts your self-worth. Evaluate expectations and set goals to improve self-worth.


In trying to understand our feelings in recovery, clients often discover that they carry a great deal of shame. Whether shame is rooted from childhood or a direct result of their addiction. Participants can learn to work through shame and have a happy, healthier life, Albert Ellis, Rational Emotional Behavior therapy (REBT) based.

Shekinah Ministries:

Participants will engage in group Bible study.


Participants will learn where they have been in respect to socialization, what works and what doesn’t. It delves into boundaries, values, where have I come and where do I want to go from here? What’s the next step to take, to heal and create new avenues to succeed in their lives as they exit and mainstream back into society.

Social Values:

Participants will learn values and where they come from, the impact on self and others. Explore values of honesty, tolerance, caring, respect and responsibility. Consider roadblocks to positive values and establish an action plan to incorporate positive values in their lives.

Spanish as a Second Language:

Participants will receive materials on basic grammar and practice conversational Spanish by reading dialogues and writing their own.

Spanish/English Conversation Class, Level I:

Participants will work in pairs of one native English-speaker and one native Spanish-speaker when feasible, to do complete exercises on the verb “to be” and other related grammar in the Side-by-Side textbook.

Spanish/English Conversation Class, Level II:

Participants will work in pairs or small groups on a class assignment, with an emphasis on conversation skills and advanced grammar.

Stress Management:

Participants will learn to identify stress by considering whether many “bad” things have happened to them recently, if they often feel tired or anxious, and if they frequently feel angry or irritated.


Participants will engage in T’ai-chi, an exercise that is practiced using relaxed, fluid movements. Benefits from this practice include (but are not limited to) relaxation, focus, and a sense of well-being.

Thinking Errors:

Participants will examine their thinking to make certain it is objective and accurate, recognize errors in their thinking that can get them in trouble, understand how thinking errors support an irresponsible lifestyle, learn what is involved in changing habits, and consider how they will handle the reactions of others as they change their thinking patterns.

Values for Responsible Living:

Participants will examine values of honesty, caring, tolerance, and responsibility; recognize how criminal values exist at the core of criminal lifestyle choices; and learn how to set future, constructive goals.

Victim Impact:

Participants will have the opportunity to develop empathy for victims and understand the impact of crime on primary and secondary victims and the community, and how victims are affected emotionally, physically, spiritually and financially by crime.

Writing for Change:

Participants will use creative writing to express their ideas, learn more about the writing process, and receive feedback on their writing.

College-Level Correspondence Courses:

Information provided by the jail's Education Director

* these numbers represent only those inmates who have attended a minimum of ten (10) hours of classes, based on data needs requested by the State Department of Education. Many more students begin classes, but drop out, are released, or transported to other facilities.

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Boulder County Jail

Main: 303-441-4650
Alternate: 303-441-4444
Emergency: 911


Boulder County Jail

3200 Airport Road
Boulder, CO 80301
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