November 3, 2010
For More Information
Contact: Public Affairs Office
The soon-to-be graduates squirming in their shiny robes, pulling at their square mortar-board hats, fidgeted in their seats as on-stage speakers offered inspirational words of encouragement. Nothing unusual in that except that this graduation was taking place at the Department of Corrections’ Quincy Prison Annex on October 29 and all the graduates were inmates whose chances to succeed outside the prison walls were about to improve.
The graduates, not all of them young, stood to individually receive a high school equivalency diploma, popularly known as a GED. Stepping up to the stage, each one earned a round of applause.
Five years ago Quincy Prison Annex had no graduates for the entire year. In the past 14 months, so far, they have graduated 122 inmates.
These men had been handicapped by not having academic credentials, but now that they do, each one of them will have a better chance of finding and keeping a job.
From their first days in Florida prisons, inmates are urged to improve themselves in preparation for the day they are released. Time spent behind the bars of a state prison offers some inmates opportunity to turn their lives around. By taking classes for diplomas and acquiring skills in honest trades, learning how to get along with other people and setting goals to change their ways, inmates increase the chance of success outside.
“When an inmate succeeds,” says Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Walter McNeil, “society succeeds. Inmates with education and skills are less likely to commit crimes. This equates to greater public safety. With a diploma and job skills, released inmates are more likely to have jobs and stable families, live law-abiding lives, and pay taxes.”
McNeil points out that one-third of Florida’s inmates can be expected to return to prison within three years and that it costs about $20,000 a year to keep one prisoner locked up.
“Giving inmates a better chance at avoiding more prison time is definitely a win-win proposition for them, and for the rest of us, taxpayers and citizens.”
For more information, contact Department of Corrections Communications Director Gretl Plessinger at (850) 488-0420