By Chris Gregory, Managing Editor

CoreCivic’s education program recognized 51 inmates for improving themselves through academic and vocational achievement at a ceremony on Dec. 13 at Trousdale Turner Correctional Center.

Six inmates received their HiSET (high school equivalency) degrees, with 45 inmates earning various vocational certifications in areas such as computer courses, electrical and masonry.

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette

One inmate even received his certification as a paralegal, which was done via correspondence courses, while another received his electrician’s license.

Along with family members, also in attendance was Virginia Crump, Superintendent of Education for the Tennessee Department of Corrections.

Part of CoreCivic’s contract to operate the Hartsville prison requires academic and vocational opportunities to be available for inmates, with a goal of reducing recidivism once they are eventually released.

“Each of you made a difference in your lives and that is a step in the right direction; to make sure that when you leave this facility that you’re better prepared to live a productive life with your family,” Warden Russell Washburn told the graduating inmates.

According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice, 68 percent of state inmates nationwide lack a high school diploma. Other studies state that inmates who obtain GEDs while in prison are 30 percent less likely to be incarcerated again, and those who complete vocational training are 28 percent more likely to find a job after release.

“Part of changing the culture in our facility is to start with what we’re doing here…” added Assistant Warden Denise Davidson, who oversees the prison’s educational program. “Take this opportunity to stand proud and share with everyone how important (education) is.”

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or [email protected]