Inmates earn GEDs while in Winnebago County Jail

Local News

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — A special graduation ceremony was held for inmates of the Winnebago County Jail who received their GED today.

Standing side-by-side on Tuesday, three inmates, Marcus Elmore, Jamain McFadden, and Sanford Marzette, now have a brighter future, as part of a new program to get GEDs for those serving time.

The jail provides personal learning tablets to the inmates.

“They can educate themselves,” said Sheriff Gary Caruana. “Case in point: these three fellas that just graduated used these tablet to work on their assignments and get their GEDs right here. It opens up a lot of doors, using technology.”

“My GED, it starts with that and opens so many doors for me,” said Marcus Elmore.

Elmore has been out of school for 17 years, and crunched all of his studying for the GED in just two months.

“You gotta take a pre-test before you take the real test,” Elmore said. “They want to make sure you’re going to pass it.”

The goal is to get the inmates ready to be released back into society.

“Let’s educate these people and get them out, instead of just dead time in here,” Caruana said. “Let’s move down the road and see if we can get them in entering society with some strong footing.”

The program isn’t easy. Only 11 inmates have completed it this year.

“I didn’t think I’d finish it before I got out of here. And it just happened. I kept going,” Elmore said. “There was a couple times I almost gave up, because we were running into roadblocks.”

Elmore said he has a big motivation for a better future – providing for his family.

“I received the most support of my fiance and kids,” he said. “It’s never too late. Don’t never give up, just keep pushing.”

Elmore said he’s planning to move out West with his family once he’s released, where he plans to look for a job in welding.


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