New partnership give four inmates chance to graduate high school - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

New partnership give four inmates chance to graduate high school

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CALMAR (KWWL) -

A graduation ceremony at Northeast Iowa Community College in Calmar was especially special for four of the graduates.

That's because they're inmates at nearby Luster Heights Correctional Facility.  It's a minimum security prison camp in Harper's Ferry that houses mostly non-violent offenders.

A partnership between NICC and Luster Heights gave Joseph Beverlin the chance to work over the past few months to get his high set GED.

He says this opportunity will set him up for success when he transitions back to normal life.

"It sucks that I had to come to prison to do it," he said.  "It means a lot."

The partnership between the two is just a few months old, but NICC President Liang Chee Wee says it'll make a huge difference in the lives of many inmates.

"This is a great first step for them, it's a great success. And we think it's going to be a great springboard to future success," he said.

Luster Heights Counselor Robin Bernhard says the difference in the four men has been noticeable already.

"It's great for them, because now they're more marketable, they will be better for the job market.  Their self confidence has just raised so much, and just the way they walk and carry themselves...it's made a real difference."

Bernhard says there are a number of inmates at Luster Heights who are very interested in getting involved in the program.

Officials with NICC say they're also working on partnerships with other facilities in Iowa, like Winneshiek and Allamakee counties, Waukon, and others.

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