Utah Department of Corrections

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It may have been a short walk in a small room, but for these eight graduates, it was a long time coming.

The eight were graduating with certificates in Business Administrative Services from Davis Technical College. But this ceremony was not at a school. It was at the Timpanogos Womens Facility at the Utah State Prison.

The program is one of many run by DTC at the prison in an effort to help offenders better integrate into society once released. With education, offenders have a lower rate of returning to prison, said Dan Powers, Corrections Manager with DTC.

“Even those who just participate – not graduate, but just participate – return to prison 40 percent less than those that don’t,” Powers said. “For those that graduate, 60 to 70 percent never come back.”

Powers said education is particularly important for women in the program. The ability to earn livable wages helps them avoid returning to unhealthy relationships or criminal behaviors in an effort to survive.

Officially, there were 30 graduates in this class. The rest had already been released, including 10 from the first class on cable installation recently instituted at the facility.

“It required a lot of self-discipline,” said Elizabeth Canon, one of the graduates, reflecting on what it took to reach graduation day. The certificates take between 900 and 1,200 hours to complete. “We motivated each other.”

It also took resourcefulness. For instance, finding photos for a homework assignment may be easy for most students, but for those without a camera or the internet, it requires more effort.

“We had to improvise,” said Jessica Miller, another graduate. “We had to get creative.”

Creative for Miller meant using an art program on a computer and crafting her own image to use.

In addition to business and cable installation, graduates also came from the Culinary Arts program, according to Powers. 

In addition to the graduates at Timpanogos, 50 male offenders recently graduated from DTC. They earned certificates in Automotive Technology, Welding Technology, Business Administrative Services, CNC Machining and Culinary Arts. Of those, 33 have already re-entered society.

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Public Information Office, Aug. 14, 2019