GED program allows inmates to set out new path

Nyki Stephen, left, and Rakine Hall earned their GED certificates in a ceremony Wednesday at the Dougherty County jail. / Mary Green

The Dougherty County Jail graduated two more inmates through its GED program on Wednesday.

Rakine Hall and Nyki Stephen are the 30th and 31st inmates to complete the program since Kevin Sproul became sheriff in 2010, and the third and fourth this year.

The popular program, which currently has a waiting list, is run with Albany Tech and offers a new path for inmates.

“I made some bad decisions,” Stephen said. “But I learned from it all, though.”

But it took a lot to do that learning and receive their degrees at Wednesday’s ceremony.

“I had to stay focused,” Hall said. “I had a lot of days I just wanted to stop and give up.”

“Just stop coming,” Stephen echoed.

The payoff Wednesday was more than a piece of paper: It was about an indescribable feeling for Hall.

“This is a very special day for me, and I don’t know. I just feel good and I don’t know,” he said.

But that piece of paper, his new degree, isn’t the reason it was a special day for Hall—at least not the main one.

“It made me feel good because it was my first time seeing my daughter,” he said, getting a chance to take his first family photo with her and his girlfriend after the ceremony.

You wouldn’t know by looking at them that Hall and one-year-old Riyanna had never met each other before, with the two of them playing as if they were old pals.

But now that Hall has met his daughter, he said it’s reason enough to stay on this new path.

“I don’t want her to grow up and just see her daddy not doing it in life,” he said.

As for Stephen, he was able to spend time afterward with his mother and grandmother, who he said motivated him through this journey.

“‘Do something with your time. Make yourself better,’” he said his mom told him. “I went and got my GED, helped myself out.”

Now, they both want others to help themselves and stay off that wrong path too.

“It ain’t worth it, you know,” Hall said. “Better things in life. You know, put your mind to it, and you’ll have a better future.”

The jail's GED program is run completely through private donations, and they said those funds are running low at this time.

If you want to contribute, you can send a check to the Dougherty County jail and write "GED program" in the memo.

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