For Kelli Armstrong and Tammy Kline, the ceremony Thursday at Lee Arrendale State Prison in Alto didn’t just mark the end of their high school studies.
It was also the beginning of their life free from incarceration.
Armstrong and Kline will be released today after graduating Thursday from the Georgia Department of Corrections’ Charter School Program.
“If I didn’t come to prison, I probably never would have even had the chance to get my high school diploma. It’s amazing. I’m very proud of myself,” Kline said.
Before prison, Kline was a self-described drug addict and “pretty much gave up on everything.”
She was serving 39 months for theft in Walker County, where she lived.
Kline said she was completely shocked about the news and now plans to go to school for graphic design.
Armstrong’s family was in the audience Thursday for the ceremony, where 26 inmates received high school diplomas. Armstrong was serving a two-year sentence for burglary and forgery convictions in Coweta County.
One of her biggest goals when out of prison will be reconnecting with her daughter, who has been in the father’s full custody since her incarceration.
“When I get out and once I get my life together, he’s willing to let me be a part of her life. That’s my goal once I get out and start working, and I’ll start mending that relationship with her,” Armstrong said.
Armstrong said her family had offered her a job at their company as a sales rep “as soon as I step out of these gates.”
“This is an opportunity for you, an opportunity that so many others fail to have or take advantage of. We are looking to parole inmates who are changed individuals. Prison programming exists to provide an avenue of change and improvement for that offender. An education remains a necessary key to success,” Parole Board Vice Chairman-elect Braxton Cotton said in a news release.