Educating prisoners in Chowchilla

CHOWCHILLA, Calif.

The music, caps, and gowns may be traditional, but the location of this commencement ceremony is not. The graduates are all serving time at Central California Women's Facility in Chowchilla.

Charitie Hennig: "In prison, in prison, where the majority of society sees as us unreformable and as selfish criminals, we lent a helping hand to our fellow sister who struggled with math or all the essays in English."

During an emotional ceremony, these 35 inmates became the first to ever earn their associate of arts degrees from Feather River College. The school is located about six hours north in Susanville, but brings all the resources to the prison to help the women complete the two year program.

Chi Chi Locci: "I never thought it would happen, and to happen here of all places, it's wonderful."

Chi Chi Locci is serving 15 years to life on second degree murder charges. She was arrested in 2000, accused of beating her three year old grandson to death. But her daughter says she's now an inspiration.

Sable Locci: "I'm very proud. I'm going to school myself and every day I'm hoping I get to this point."

The hope is the new graduates who are released will have a better chance of getting a job, staying on the right path, and staying out of prison.

The warden says even those serving life sentences benefit by setting a better example for their children.

Javier Cavazos: "It's self-worth, accomplishment, self esteem, they accomplished a goal."

And Locci says she's not done yet.

Chi Chi Locci: "I am looking forward to becoming an engineer, anything I can do to better myself."

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