Applause is not something you hear inside the Harris County Jail. But for some inmates wearing a royal blue cap and gown over their orange prison issued pajamas, it was recognition for finishing high school.
Daniel Castellon says it was a great feeling to be able to overcome a big obstacle.
“Yeah, I was pretty happy when I passed my GED test.”
Hernandez: “Was it hard?”
Castellon: “It was alright. I didn’t try my hardest, but I know I could’ve done better.”
Ella Duncan is the director of Inmate Education with the HCSO. She says not every inmate takes advantage of their “free time” to complete their high school education.
“What I found with most of my students is once they’re given the opportunity, and they realize that instructor is genuinely cares about whether or not they achieve that GED, they are more susceptible to listening and learning.”
Sheriff Adrian Garcia helped hand out diplomas. He says the new graduates know it’s a big step.
“That’s why I told them, ‘Get angry with the fact that they had to be here to get to this point in their lives. But make that frustration, that anger productive to show people that people can make mistakes, but they can also recover from those mistakes as well.”
Kaye McCrossin dropped out after the 11th grade, but feels fortunate to be able to complete her high school education.
“Well, I’m so grateful. It’s been such a great opportunity. I didn’t think that I would get any opportunity than this situation and I have. I feel like I’ve accomplished something.”
Hernandez: “And to have Sheriff Garcia say, ‘I’m proud of what you’ve done’, that’s got to make you feel good.”
McCrossin: “I’m dying to get my picture taken with him!”
National studies show that any education while incarcerated reduces the risk of returning.