KSFY, Apr 08, 2016
Friday, a celebration was held to honor GED recipients, but it wasn’t where you would expect it. It was at the South Dakota State Penitentiary.
16 inmates walked across the stage and received their diplomas, something many of them never thought they would receive. And what these inmates have learned within prison walls may stay with them long after they leave.
“There was a few times there that I was about ready to just give up,” said Charles Little Bear, a prison inmate.
But after 15 months Little Bear received his GED, just 80 days before his prison release date.
“I kept going because I wanted to be a positive impact and be an inspiration for younger inmates in prison that if i can get a GED, then they can get a GED too,” said Little Bear.
“When they want to step in and step up and improve themselves, we have to applaud that. We have to let them know this is important. This is what gets you further in life and nobody can take that education away from you,” said Warden Darin Young.
Little Bear says it was his teachers and classmates who pushed him to succeed. With diploma in hand, he wants to start his own business when he gets out and help others to succeed.
“If I can get my own business going, then I could help the people getting out of prison by employing them,” said Little Bear.
“For them to be able to achieve this inside a place like the prison is even more of an outstanding reward than getting it outside,” said Nick Redmond, GED teacher at the prison.
Warden Young says by recognizing the inmates’ accomplishments with a ceremony shows them they are worth something and that the staff truly believes in them.
“I think that sometimes when they get here, it may be one of the few positive role models they’ve had in their life. And sometimes they don’t always look at us as positive to models until they see us maybe in a different environment. This environment today is different than in the cell blocks and they have to put on certain fassads to survive,” said Warden Young.
As of the end of March 2016, there were 330 inmates attending GED classes. Inmates make up approximately 25% of the state students receiving GED services.