"Lock up to lift up" 

Rep. James White encourages offenders, families from six prisons to continue success

Representative-White-Speaking"One good quality decision will set the standard for you to make another quality decision the next day," said Rep. James White (R-Hillister) to GED graduates from Windham School District (WSD). As Vice Chair of the Texas House of Representatives Corrections Committee, White visited prison to urge graduates to continue to make quality decisions and reach for new challenges: vocational training, community college, college, diplomas and degrees.

White delivered an enthusiastic and encouraging commencement speech to visiting family members and offenders from six school sites, including the Eastham, Ellis, Estelle, Goree, Huntsville and Wynne units. He told the group that support for correctional education comes from correctional staff and the public, as well as family members.

Offender-receiving-diploma"You would be surprised at the high regard and thoughtfulness your correctional officers have for you," he said, citing examples of officers personally telling him that programs such as education make a difference in rehabilitation of offenders. "Your correction officers are often communicating with me on what they believe is in your best interest -- and most of the time they’re right. They are helping us to reintegrate you back into our free society."

White said the public shares this view, as well.

"The people of Texas -- they get it, too," he said. "Oftentimes in the Wal-Mart line or at church or walking through the community, they will ask me questions or have advice or suggestions about criminal justice. They ask two things, primarily. They say, ‘Representative, what are you doing to rehabilitate, educate and train these men and women that come back into our society? We know that a vast majority of them will come back to us. We’re not really concerned about the lock-up, Representative White, we’re more concerned about the lift-up!’"

White expanded his remarks to praise family members for their support, telling graduates, "There’s another important element in this process, … look to your left [at the family members] because that is what this celebration is really about right now.

"These men and women have developed callouses on their knees, with tears flowing like a river, praying [for you] over and over and over. Sometimes these mamas and grandmas and aunts wonder if their petitions to the Lord and nights of tears really matter. They’ve toiled, and they’ve cared for you, and that’s really what today is about. Today is their day; it’s a big win for them!"

Estelle-Family-imageWhite told the graduates their achievement will impact other offenders: "You will become an example to all of the inmates you will go back and interact with; you’ll show them they can succeed, because you’ve done it!" He also encouraged offenders to "never give up" and reminded everyone else to never give up on those who are trying to better themselves.

"With that, I want to tell the graduates, correctional staff, family members and friends: God bless you, and through you, God will continue to bless the great state of Texas," he said.

Rep. James White represents constituents from Southeast Texas District 19: Polk, Tyler, Jasper, Newton and Hardin counties. He is a former army officer, public school teacher and high school coach, and he has served on the Texas joint committee of Human Trafficking, and the Agriculture and Livestock Committee. He currently serves as the Vice-Chairman of the Corrections Committee and is a committee member of the Emerging Issues in Texas Law Enforcement and Juvenile Justice and Family Issues committees.

 

 

 

 

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"You are inspiring people you haven’t even met!"

Success Story IconNEW - I can now make a living. I’m free - "The welding program helped me build character. Mr. Perry taught me how to talk like a welder..."

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"These opportunities [GED® classes or learning a trade] are great, but WSD is so much more than that; for me it was a change of life."

Success Story IconNEW - Tools to change my own life - "What can I say about Autobrakes? I guess I need to start by saying it's one of the best classes I have ever taken!"

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WSD in Images

Offenders often experience academic success for the first time in a Windham classroom.
Auto specialization students in a West Texas prison learn auto maintenance skills, preparing themselves for future employment as professional mechanics.
WSD’s Business and Image Management & Multimedia (BIMM) class offers students the opportunity to learn viable graphic arts and computer skills, helping them prepare for jobs after release.
Texas State Board of Education Chair Barbara Cargill congratulates GED recipients during Spring, 2014, ceremonies. “I am very impressed with the program and with the commitment of the staff and teachers,” she said.
Students at the Huntsville “Walls” Unit strengthen writing skills during a literacy class.
Each day WSD correctional educators pass through prison gates across Texas to work with men and women incarcerated within TDCJ.