McMinn County inmates test for G.E.D. - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

McMinn County inmates test for G.E.D.

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McMINN COUNTY (WRCB) -- From the ball n' chains to caps and gowns, nearly a dozen inmates at the McMinn County Jail test for their General Educational Dev elopement (G.E.D.) behind bars.

McMinn County Sheriff Joe Guy who serves on the Adult Education Board is proud his jail is now offering the program. It comes at no extra cost to tax payers, and more importantly, gives inmates hope for life after incarceration.

Inmate Tammy Womac says, "For a long time the only thing I said I was good at was failing. This has given me more confidence. Makes me feel like I can actually do something good with my life."

Womac is serving 12 months for what she calls 'a serious drug problem'. She says the "Tammy" who will walk free in December is a much different person.

She's no longer using drugs, and is ready to be a mother to her five children, and now she's one of nine McMinn County inmates waiting for their G.E.D. results.

Womac calls this jail sentence a jail blessing.

"Being in here, that's one good thing," she says. "I had that chance, to get my G.E.D., and better my life for my kids."

Tammy now has goals. She plans to work upon release, and attend college next year.

Sheriff Joe Guy says, 'what's the point of jail if you're not fixing what's wrong'. He says roughly 66 percent of inmates end up in trouble again.

"The whole point of jail is to correct behavior and what better way to correct behavior by educating someone," says Sheriff Guy.

The G.E.D. inmate program isn't new to McMinn County, but this is the first time it has been implemented in recent years, with private donations funding most of the testing.

While Sheriff Guy waits for the test results, he's planning a graduation ceremony.

"I know it's not something we have to do, but to me it's just the icing on the cake," he says. "They never got to walk across the stage, they never got a diploma, but we'll let them do that."

"We'll have a graduation, and maybe get some speakers," says Guy.

The G.E.D. program is only offered to inmates who have good behavior and are serving a minimum of 60 days.

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