Inmates Prepare for Graduation

by Ramonica R. Jones There are now 518 inmates in the Diboll Correctional Center. A third of them are in the prison's education program, either working towards a G.E.D. or vocational license. Principal John Cook believes despite their current situation, criminals can turn their lives around. "Yes they can, but it's just like anything else - it's up to the individual," said Cook. "We give them the wherewithal to do it and it's up to them to do it." From armed robbery to home burglary to violence, each inmate is there for a different reason. "I don't think there's that many bad people," Cook said. "They just made bad choices." but many of them are hoping for a similar ending to their prison stay - another chance at freedom, a chance to start over, and someone willing to overlook and understand their past. "I think that employers need to look at the overall picture. These guys have paid the price and they need to be given a chance." Diboll inmates are required to go to school during their sentence. Anyone who does not have a high school diploma qualifies for an education. The Diboll Correctional Center is hosting its offender graduation ceremony Friday at 9:30 a.m. Dozens of inmates will either get a G.E.D. or certification in carpentry, construction, or another vocational program.