Inmates graduate inside maximum security prison - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Inmates graduate inside maximum security prison

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Prisoners receiving diplomas, it's something that happened this afternoon at the Anamosa State Penitentiary.

Nineteen high school diploma's and twelve apprenticeship program diploma's were given out. 

"I'm interested in doing computer aided design, computer aided manufacturing," said Frankgel Vasallo, who received his high school diploma today.

Tomas DeLeon, who is an apprenticeship graduate told us he has seen a big change in himself from the day he came to the prison to now.

The apprenticeship program gives inmates on the job training in certain fields. 

"When I came in it was just, well of course facing 14 years you don't want to do anything you know but as you go, and you go, and you go and you progress, of course you want to prepare yourself for when you get out," he said.

The goal of getting out and being a productive member of society is something on the minds of many at the graduation.

"It's definitely something that helps me and pushes me through the days you know most of the time we're in here doing time but mentally we're not in here, we are constantly daydreaming almost you could call it," Vasallo says.

He tells us he never completed a grade past 8th grade, until today.

Vasallo is expecting to get out of prison in 2023 and by that time he plans to complete the apprenticeship program as well.

Education, giving the inmates hope for a new future after they get out of the prison.

"It's a very exciting thing for these guys when they get out, it's going to give them the skills to be promotable," says Tim Diesburg, Apprentice Coordinator with the Iowa Department of Corrections.

"When I get out I won't have to go back to doing what I did," Vasallo told us.

It's a reminder the past doesn't have to define the future, and it's never too late to achieve your goals.

"For the people out there watching you know just stay out of trouble and do what you've got you do to succeed in the future," says Vasallo.

We are told the apprenticeship program has grown very quickly, there are 267 inmates involved statewide and last year there were just 37.

As a part of the program, Kirkwood Community College provides state-certified teachers to give tests inside the maximum security prison in Anamosa.

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