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BETTER LIFE: Prison Graduation Ceremony

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A Des Moines teenager convicted of murder in 2011 was among those trying to making positive changes in their life behind bars on Friday.

Caps and gowns replaced normal attire at the Iowa State Penitentiary as they celebrated earning their GED’s.

The pomp, the circumstances, the cake and the punch, all the things you would expect to see at a graduation, but these are not your typical graduates.

“I’ve been to treatment like ten times, treatment doesn’t work for me, I get out and I start using again I get in here I get clean time, I don’t want to go back to that life ever again,” inmate Travis Yeakle said.

And now with a GED in hand, when he does get out, he can already see a different life for himself. “I can now get out, go to college, get a job and support myself.”

For 21-year-old Oscar Ibarra of Des Moines, his motivation is a little different.  At the age of 19 he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for stabbing his friend’s father.

“Every day I strive to better myself and to make the best out of my situation, with only the thought of making my mom proud and to be a positive role model for my little sister.”

Oscar may not have many freedoms, but he says this GED will open up doors.

“We are very limited behind these walls, but I will not let that stop me…because knowledge has no limits.”

His GED is something no one can ever take away.