In all, 18 earned their General Education Diploma while others earned certificates for finishing various programs including the alcohol and drug program and the music program.
The GED program, which began at the facility in 2008, has seen over 140 inmates successfully complete the program.
“This was the first ceremony that we have had this year,” said Libby Mullins, GED instructor. “We like to have a certain number to be on site before holding a ceremony and that can be tough with the moving around that a lot of the inmates do.”
Retired Senior Circuit Judge for the 11th Judicial District, Kenneth L. Thomas was the keynote speaker.
“You have passed your examination and that should make you feel proud and give you hope for the future,” said Thomas. “Your paths in life were not easy and I know that each of you are proud of this accomplishment.”
Thomas went on in his speech and read a poem that he penned for the ceremony called the Two Sides of Jim. After the reading he left the inmates with words of encouragement.
“This accomplishment proves that each and every one of you can achieve positive goals,” continued Thomas. “Succeeding and becoming a more productive citizen is something that you all have now proved that you can do. With that being said, I challenge each of you upon your release of incarceration to conform your conduct according to the requirements of the law, abide by the steps that have been laid out before you and appreciate the lessons of the Two Sides of Jim, then you can, and will, succeed and become productive citizens.”
Families of the inmates were invited to the commencement and sat proudly watching as each man and woman walked to the front of the room to receive their GED or certification. Mothers, fathers, husbands, children and aunts looked on and a few brushed away tears. After the ceremony, everyone was invited to stay for refreshments.
“Everyone here should be proud of the choices that this group of people have made,” said Mary Haywood, A&D/GED director. “I am certainly proud of each of you and commend the fact that you all have taken the steps to try and become working members of society after your release.”