We had a BIG graduation today on one of the yards. 98 guys, which is huge. Caps. gowns, photos, certificates.
I know many of you (and me on my bad days) think these inmates need to be keep inside forever, dressed in pink boxers and fed a nutriton loaf once a day.
If you saw what I saw today, you to would become a believer in the rehabilitation part of corrections.
We had the ceremony outside, with the entire yard open, which means that EVERYONE had a ringside seat. We had a tremendous inmate band, vibrant speakers and a group of men who were set apart not by their caps and gowns but by their carriage.
These men had set themselves a goal and met it. One man was 75. Another was 20. Many started out not speaking English at the onset of their incarceration. The group of graduates were not inmates anymore. They were men with both an education and a focus. That is where education makes a difference….inside them.
I was in charge of passing out photos and as their names wer called out, I flipped through the stack of photos so I could put a name to a face. I just liked to be able to say, “Congratulations Mr. XYZ, you must be proud of your accomplishments.”
So little for that little boost in esteem. These photos? All going home to mom,because at last, they have done something to make her proud.