CALIPATRIA - Statistics show that prison inmates who get an education while incarcerated, do better in society, behave better, and have less chances of going back to prison. On Friday, 20 inmates in Calipatria completed their high school education ad one received his College Degree.
22 year-old Richard Cardenas says that, at one point of his life, he gave up on it. He mad some bad decisions that would eventually land him in state prison. But through his faith and the will to succeed, Cardenas and 19 other inmates at Calipatria State Prison can call themselves High School Graduates.
Cardenas was 1 of the 20 Calipatria State Prison inmates that graduated with a High School Diploma on Friday morning.
He was able to obtain his diploma by making a drastic change to the way he was living his life.
"I was in need of change. I realized that where I was at and how I was living my life on my terms and it got me 28 years in prison".
28 years for a spree of robberies in his hometown of West Covina.
Cardenas says that his newly-found faith gave him the strength to get through the classes.
"The fact that Jesus got on the cross and died for my sins and that I realized that I was a sinner and that I was in need of a savior, that's what made me wanna change. To grab that hope and to hold on to it and to never let go".
That hope is also what helped James DeBacco obtain his College Degree.
He says that the life he was living was one that he no longer wanted.
"One day I decided to make change for myself", he says. "I got tired of being in the gang environment. I got tired of pretty much having other people look at me as though I didn't matter and I wanted to make a change for myself that would allow myself to be seen as somebody who did matter in society".
Family members were allowed to attend the ceremony and visit afterwards.
"I appreciate it, I respect that they take time out of their lives and the support that they show, unconditional love for me. I appreciate that. It shows me that they themselves have Christ in them".
21 inmates can now leave the prison, whenever that may be, with an education under their belt.
For Cardenas, and the 19 other inmates that received their high school diplomas, their education will continue as they all said that their next goal is a college degree.
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