Graduation Opens New Opportunities for Offenders at Allred

Iowa Park, TX. - Families came to Iowa Park Saturday from across the country to celebrate graduation.

More than 30 offenders at Allred Prison received their G.E.D.  or a vocational certificate.

It's the first step for some of the men looking for a second chance.

They walked across the stage one by one, beaming in their accomplishments as family and friends proudly watched.

But it's not your normal high school graduation, it's a celebration for offenders locked up in Allred Prison, trying to build a future, despite their pasts.

"It's their second chance and a lot of people don't want to give them a second chance," says G.E.D. Teacher Mrs. Lowery.

The gym was decorated like any high school graduation party and offenders not graduating served cake and punch, sang songs and played in the band to entertain the families while they enjoyed time with the loved ones they rarely get to see.

Joanne Bierzynski drove in from North Carolina to support her nephew.

She says the trip was worth it.

"Everyone deserves to know that they are loved even if you make a mistake in your life you can go forward get an education and prepare yourself to go out in the world and do good," says Bierzynski.

One offender says he is trying to do just that with his new education.

I'd like to take a college vocational in welding and then go to advance welding," says Donald Demouchette.
He was top of the class and says he appreciates the support he has found at Allred.

"It makes me feel pretty good because I finally accomplished something and it actually means something, something good," says Demouchette.

Support from teachers like Mrs. Lowery.

"When I tell them that they pass and watching a grown man jump up and down like a three year old fixing to go to six flags, it's like the first time that they've succeeded and it's an awesome feeling, it's very rewarding," says Lowery.

Families did receive extra visitation time after the ceremony.

And if you are wondering about the offenses of the graduates, not even the guards know, it's all part of an effort to treat them all fairly.


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