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Rikers Island inmates graduate with high school diplomas

Mike Segar / Reuters

Inmate Abdul Cornelius is hugged by his mother Regina, left, and his sisters after receiving his General Equivalency Diploma along with 26 others at a graduation ceremony for inmates at the George Motchan Detention Center at New York City's Rikers Island correctional facility on June 26, 2012.

Reuters reports — More than two dozen students graduated on Tuesday from one of New York City's more unusual schools, where pens are forbidden and armed guards watch over every classroom.

The ceremony at the East River Academy on Rikers Island, New York City's main jail, allowed prisoners to take a step toward a better future with a high school equivalency diploma, known as a GED.

"Wow! Wow! I say ‘wow' because now I have something people can appreciate me for," said Adboul Hanne, who is awaiting trial on an attempted murder charge.

Rikers makes the school mandatory for inmates who are 16 or 17 and encourages it for inmates ages 18 to 21. Some 3,600 students pass through the school per year, and about 800 are enrolled at any given time, the New York City Department of Correction said. Read the full story.

Mike Segar / Reuters

Guards stand next to inmates during the graduation ceremony at Rikers Island.

Mike Segar / Reuters

Inmate Arisleida Duarte applauds as she and others receive their diplomas.