SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— 65 male and female inmates from the San Francisco County Jail received their high-school diplomas Friday afternoon through the first charter school in a jail in the country.

Wearing their cap and gowns over their orange prison clothes, the inmate  graduates, ranging in age from 18 to 59, from the class of 2013 completed their requirements from Five Keys Charter School.

Executive Director Steve Good said the school transforms lives both inside and outside the jail.

“We have a 44 percent recidivism rate compared to a statewide average of around 66 to 70 percent recidivism rate. That alone saves California $10 million [from] our program alone,” he said.

Denise Tucker said her son Roland Black dropped out of school in his junior year because of peer pressure and he always wanted to graduate.

“He called me and told me, ‘Mama, I finally did it,’ so I’m proud of him,” Tucker said.

Among the graduates was Vanessa Hay who thanked her teachers and offered words of encouragement to her fellow grads.

“I would not have received my high-school diploma had I not been here today. I wish you all success and may your futures be fulfilled with only dreams you can imagine,

This is the 10th year the SF jail has operated a charter school. In that time, 725 students have gotten their high school diplomas through the program.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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