By Josh Mitchell
Corinth Today News Editor
As their names were called, the inmates in the black and white striped pants approached the podium with smiles on their faces.
They shook hands with a Northeast Mississippi Community College official and proudly gripped the crisp certificates.
These inmates recently completed college courses and earned employment credentials to help them obtain jobs once they are released from the Alcorn County Regional Correctional Facility.
The nine inmates who received certificates Wednesday were the inaugural class of the new Northeast program offered in partnership with the Alcorn County prison.
It was a “very enjoyable experience” and gave the inmates a “sense of accomplishment” to gain knowledge they can use in the future, inmate Dustin Meagher said. Meagher added that he is “excited” to re-enter society so he can “work hard” and “do better” in life.
Inmate Thurgood Jones said taking the college courses encouraged him to get out in the world and better himself. Jones was “very thankful” to be part of the first class.
Alcorn County Sheriff Ben Caldwell congratulated the inmates for their accomplishments and shook hands with all of them. The sheriff said it is “extremely exciting” that the prison is partnering with Northeast to offer the program.
It can be hard for inmates to find good employment once they are released, Caldwell noted. But the education they obtain in the program gives them another opportunity to be productive members of society, the sheriff said.
Three teachers taught the courses to the inmates, and the classes started in mid-August after Northeast President Ricky Ford came up with the idea.
The inmates received applause as they took their certificates and were treated to cake after the ceremony, which was held at the Alcorn County Justice Center courtroom.
Another group of students will start classes at the Alcorn County prison in January, and 10 inmates have already signed up.
The credits offered include employment readiness, fundamentals of electrical construction manufacturing and manufacturing skills basic, which is also a regional employment certification. There could be more courses offered in the future.
Dr. Kelli Hefner with Northeast praised the inmates for their success and said they “understand the value of education.”