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Inmates celebrate education milestones, futures, at Ellsworth Correctional Facility
By gbtribune.com- Brandon Steinert
Published: 11/07/2018

ELLSWORTH — Jason Schaffer was incarcerated at age 16, and hasn’t known freedom for the last 25 years. His first chance at leaving is a parole opportunity still more than a decade away. Until then, he has plenty of time, and he has a choice about how to view his past, use his present and approach his future. His focus has been education, and he graduated with an associate degree in general studies from Barton Community College on Thursday night, Nov. 1, at the Ellsworth Correctional Facility Learning Celebration.

“I’ve been in prison my whole life; I didn’t know anything about the world when I started taking classes in the facility,” he said. “I had failed sixth grade twice, which is when I started getting locked up, so I came here with a fifth grade education. When I got here, I got curious and found out that I like to learn.”

Schaffer learned to weld and landed a welding job, then used the income to pay for earning his high school diploma through the GED exam while he was incarcerated at El Dorado Correctional Facility. Transferring to ECF opened up new possibilities through Barton, of which he took full advantage. He earned several industry certificates before earning his associate degree, which was earned with highest honors, holding onto a 4.0 grade-point average.

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