An inmate at Trousdale Turner Correctional Center receives congratulations from staff after earning a certification.

Submitted to The Vidette

Trousdale Turner Correctional Center in Hartsville celebrated nine student-inmates who earned either an Adult Basic Education (ABE) diploma or a certificate in computer coding on Friday, Jan. 22 — the first graduation of 2021 at Trousdale.

The five student-inmates who earned their ABE diploma are now more qualified for employment following release. The other four student-inmates — also qualified for employment — were part of the first graduating class of the Persevere coding program, which launched at Trousdale in October 2019. Persevere graduates are now prepared to enter coding jobs after release with starting salaries of over $60,000.

Persevere offers a self-paced, 12-18 month course that trains students in front-end and full stack development, a highly sought after skillset in the industry. The course enables students to earn certifications in responsive web design, JavaScript algorithms and data structures, front-end libraries, data visualization, APIs and microservices, and database information security and quality assurance.

“We’re so very proud of these graduates’ determination while pursuing their education,” said Kenneth Bailey, principal of educational services at TTCC. “Earning a diploma or industry-recognized certificate is a big deal for those in our care — having solid job skills upon release can mean the difference between returning to prison or not. It’s our job as reentry professionals to help equip these inmates with as many life and job skills as possible so that they have the highest chance of success and never returning to prison.”

Student-inmate George, who was the graduating class’s peer mentor for the Persevere program, shared his experience about the time he has dedicated to education while incarcerated.

“Education is the most important skill you can obtain while incarcerated; it gives you the power to advance yourself, while proving to others that you can change for the better,” said George. “I hope that I can give back to society upon release, and stay focused on being a better me.”

George also commented that he hopes to open his own coding firm following his release in the future.

Graduation ceremony guests included CoreCivic and Persevere staff only. Following the ceremony, staff and graduates shared a meal together to celebrate the event.

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