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Inmates don caps and gowns


It was a dark time for the Bosermans when, hopped up on methamphetamine, then 20-year-old Joshua broke into the family safe in his own home and stole jewelry, credit cards and the keys to the Honda Accord.

Four days later and with 2,000 extra miles driven on the Accord, Joshua was caught by law enforcement officials in Nevada. He has served four years in prison for committing grand larceny against his own family.

Robert Boserman, a commander in the Navy, said watching his son spiral out of control was the most difficult thing he’s ever had to deal with.

“I was devastated,” Boserman said. “He was self-destructing.”

But Joshua Boserman has curbed his self-destructive ways, and on Tuesday he was one of 72 inmates at the Southern Nevada Correctional Center to receive high school diplomas, General Educational Development certificates or vocational certificates.

The prison’s inmates are all between the ages of 15 and 25. The facility opened in September and this was its first graduating class.

Joshua Boserman said earning a high school diploma gives him hope for the future, a hope he became aware of only after he lost his freedom. Before that, he had dropped out of high school as a senior.

“There comes a time when you get tired of being locked up, and that’s when everything changes,” Boserman said.

The graduation in the prison’s gymnasium resembled other ceremonies from high schools in Southern Nevada. Graduates wore smiles as they donned maroon caps and gowns. Some had family members who traveled long distances to attend. One difference was that armed guards watched the inmates closely.

But family members didn’t seem to notice the guards, or the fact that under their graduation attire, all inmates wore jeans and blue button-down shirts, the prison’s dress code for inmates. For some, their children had accomplished something positive for the first time in their young lives.

“He has definitely changed,” Robert Boserman said of his son, who expects to be released in two years. “Despite what he’s done to us, we’ve always loved him.”

Virttie Scott-Lewis was at the prison Tuesday to visit her 21-year-old son, Michael, who received a vocational certificate in computer applications. “Instead of crying in here, feeling sorry for himself and not doing anything, he developed a manhood in his life,” she said.

Lenard Vare, warden of the Southern Nevada Correctional Center, said the nine prison facilities in the state offer inmates a chance to earn high school diplomas or certificates that are equal in value. He said his facility is unique in that about 85 percent of the 612 inmates have a gang affiliation.

“That made it hard to have some classes because certain gang members didn’t want to be in class with other gang members,” Vare said.

But he added that since classes started at the prison in November, violence at the facility among inmates has decreased. The prison offers high school courses Monday through Friday for six hours a day. Instructors from the Clark County School District teach full time at the prison.

Criminals can be sent to the prison for crimes ranging from burglary or car theft, to murder, Vare said.

“We have people doing two years to some doing over 100 years,” Vare said.

The Clark County School District provides teachers and programs for four prisons in Southern Nevada that serve adults. The state pays the cost of educating adult students. About 2,000 inmates a year take high school courses in those four facilities. Of that figure, about 200 earn high school diplomas and another 200 earn GEDs, said Brad Waldron, executive director of the district’s Education Services Division.

Christian Guzman, 24, was happy to be among the inmates who can now call himself a high school graduate. On Tuesday, Guzman not only received his high school diploma, but he also received a vocational certificate in construction and building maintenance. He said he couldn’t have done it without the support of his mom and his family.

Guzman’s mom, Petra, said in Spanish that she was proud her son fulfilled his promise to her to earn a diploma.

Guzman didn’t want to say why he was in prison, but said he would be released in a year.

“It feels good to finally accomplish something instead of being in trouble all the time,” Guzman said. “I did it in prison. I don’t think I would have done it in the streets.”

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