Cameron Cox, left, visits with his parents, Tommy and Toni Cox before the GED gradation ceremony at the Dougherty County jail Wednesday. Cameron, 19, has been in jail and working on his GED for nearly two years. (Staff Photo: Jim West)
ALBANY — Three young inmates of the Dougherty County jail, plus one former inmate won their general equivalency diplomas, or GEDs Wednesday. After a lot of long hard work, the proud graduates stepped up for their certificates and family hugs in the court room of the jail.
James Tanner had been working on his GED for more than three years, he said, and continued making progress when he was incarcerated nine months ago.
“I’m so excited for him,” said Tanner’s mother, Donella Carter. “I knew he could do it. It was just a matter of putting in the time and effort to get it. He’s working on being in a better place than he is right now.”
Dontavious Calloway, Tanner’s brother, is a free man in another month, he said, and plans to major in business management Grand Canyon University in Phoenix.
“I’d like to open me up a barber shop,” Calloway said.
Cameron Cox is just 19 and has been in jail for nearly two years, said his father, Tommy Cox. His mom and dad were there to lend support.
“This is going to turn his life around,” said Toni Cox, Cameron’s mother. “He’s been working really hard since he’s been in here and gotten really high scores. (The teachers) were surprised because he finished so quickly, and thought maybe he’d done a ‘bad’ job, but everything checked out. He plans to go to college and major in computer technology.”
Col. John Ostrander, director of the Dougherty County jail, said under education is among the major reasons for recidivism in jail and prison populations. The GED program has been in place for about a year and a half, Ostrander said.
“When they get out of jail, if they don’t have the means to gain employment and make a living for themselves, they often resort to other means and wind up right back here,” Ostrander said. “They’re going to get the money they need the right way or the wrong way.”
According to Ostrander, the education program is funded entirely by donations from the community.
“When we tell people what this is all about, they start getting excited,” Ostrander said. “This has a huge impact on the lives of these inmates.”