Timothy Honeycutt Jr., an inmate in the Washington County Detention Center, never imagined he would graduate from anywhere, but the 22-year-old received his general education diploma alongside his father, Timothy Honeycutt Sr., Tuesday as the first father and son pair to graduate from the Washington County Detention Center Adult Education Program.
The Honeycutts were two of 23 inmates to be awarded their GEDs during the ceremony.
“I never thought I’d graduate honestly. I grew up wild. ... Doing it together makes me happy. Makes it worth it,” Honeycutt Jr. said.
And what did Honeycutt Sr., 48, think about being able to graduate alongside his son?
In short, he was thrilled.
“I’m very proud today. Big time. I’m tickled to death. It’s been a long time,” he said. “It felt good. Real good. I’m so proud of him.”
The elder Honeycutt joined the program shortly after the younger Honeycutt began working his way toward his GED.
Honeycutt Jr. said being in jail made him think hard about his future — a future that includes going to college.
“This place opened my eyes. I’m still young and this is the first step. I want to go to college when I get out. I want to go to Tennessee Tech. ... To do that, I had to do this and do it for my family and friends,” he said. “I’m going straight to college when I get out. The minute I do, I’m going to college. My younger brother is in college, my mom went to college and now it’s my turn to go to college.”
That’s exactly the kind of motivation officials hope each inmate takes away from the program.
“It’s very important for us to include these individuals, because without a change for them statistics show they end up right back here after they’re released, so we’ve made a concerted effort to increase our support for inmates,” Adult Education Supervisor David Egbert said.
Egbert said the program, which has been in existence since the mid-1980s, has grown with the support of funding from Washington County.
Over the last four or five years, about 200 inmates have received their GEDs through the program.
Once they are released from jail with diplomas in hand, Egbert said each inmate has greater opportunities to find jobs, learn a trade, further their education and fulfill their dreams.
“We now know that we have several that are attending colleges, several that have gone through community colleges or the tech school and have completed work there and have actually found reputable employment and made life-changing situations in their life and help them personally and their families,” he said.