• Juvenile inmates earn traditional high school diplomas

    Date: 09.28.09 | by Judge Tom.

    In what may be the country’s first high school graduation behind bars, six teenagers in Arizona received their diplomas in September, 2009. Wearing graduation gowns over their prison-issue striped uniforms, the teens enjoyed “Pomp and Circumstance” from a boombox in a small room at the jail. They had completed their studies at the county’s Hard Knocks High School, and the county sheriff was present along with other dignitaries.

    JailCellPhotoportunity

    Photoportunity (Flickr)

    One of the graduates was 17-year-old Jose Hortelano who was in for armed robbery. He commented that “On the outside, I don’t know if Iwould have finished because of the way I was heading.” Now, he said “I would like to go to college.” That may have to wait until he’s sentenced on October 7, 2009. Hopefully Jose will continue his education regardless of his residence. His classmates were also serving time for assault and robbery charges.

    At the same ceremony, 18 other student-inmates received their GED certificates. In getting his, Randall Begay spoke of his mother – “That’s the only thing I have done in a long time to make her proud of me – that’s why I did it.”

    Congratulations to each of these students. Don’t stop now.

    Judge Tom

    This post was written by Judge Tom. Judge Tom is the founder and moderator of AsktheJudge.info. He is a retired juvenile judge and spent 23 years on the bench. He has written several books for lawyers and judges as well as teens and parents including the recently published 'Teen Cyberbullying Investigated' (Free Spirit Publishing). When he's not answering teens' questions, Judge Tom can be found hiking, traveling and reading.

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    3 Comments subscribe to these comments.

    • John Esposito
      Mon, 05 Oct 2009 at 05:45

      I loved the article on the young men getting their diplomas. I am currently the principal at a juvenile academy in Pennsylvania (though we have camps in Arizona and other states as well). We offer a fully accredited high school where youth can earn a high school diploma, GED diploma, or take online college courses. Keep up the great work!

    • Text message leads to steel-toed beating – Askthejudge
      Wed, 04 Apr 2012 at 08:33

      [...] For more about education behind bars, see:  http://www.askthejudge.info/juvenile-inmates-earn-traditional-high-school-diplomas/3229/ [...]

    • Jose Hortelano
      Sun, 30 Sep 2012 at 06:11

      Hey guys, Yup im the young man they interview here! Just wanted to say I am now in a university in México! :D I was given another chance! I was told I was the first immigrant in the states to graduate from a high school in jail but I don’t know how true that is!
      Thanks for writing us, Jose. We wish you the best in you studies. -Judge Tom.

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