POSTED: Monday, September 30, 2013 - 6:09pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, October 1, 2013 - 3:00pm
BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS (KVEO NEWSCENTER 23) — It's a place that typically doesn't have many celebrations, but in one of the largest graduating classes the Willacy County State Jail has seen in recent years, 42 inmates graduated with a GED with their families by their side.
"They have that starting point that they need to, uh, continue hopefully a, an educational career that'll give them the opportunities they need to be successful," said Willacy County State Jail warden Orlando Perez.
And that success means the odds of these inmates reverting back to their old habits are slim.
"The recidivism is, uh, lowered by them getting a GED and therefore many stay out of prison and don't come back through these doors because their goals and perspectives have changed," said Willacy Count State Jail educational director Carmen Garcia.
"It'll open better doors for when I make the transition back out into society," said inmate Elleuntae Bowie. "Maybe I can continue my education and do something prosperous with my life instead of ending up in places like this."
Not only does receiving a GED help pave the wave for new opportunities for these inmates, but some even admitted that without Willacy County State Jail's program, they wouldn't have even bothered to get a GED.
"In the world, I wouldn't have even got it. I wouldn't have gotten my GED," said inmate Robert Taylor. "So now that I got it and when I get out, hopefully I'll be able to do something with it and maybe go to a little college or something. Make something better out of myself."
"We're trying to show improvement in ourselves, you know, change our lifestyle skills...better ourselves in one way or another," said inmate Brandon Washington. "So it might look like we're down here and all, but it's giving us another hope and chance you know when we get back to the world."
"We was kind of reckless, so you know, getting our GED...we changed," said inmate Markwell Spearman.
But like anything worthwhile, the reward didn't come without hard work.
"It was a bumpy road, but we got through it, you know what I'm saying? They can't hold you down forever," said Washington.
Reporting in Willacy County, Marty Watson, KVEO News Center 23.