Prince George's Co. Executive Rushern Baker handed diplomas to 17 inmates in the county Thursday.
To graduate, inmates had to participate in an 8-week program to prepare for a test administered by the Department of Corrections. The graduating inmates completed the tests in March and May.
"I lost my father and it kind of sent me down a downward spiral," graduate Kenyarda Duran said.
Duran told News4 he had been in and out of jail since, and now, at 36, is receiving his high school diploma.
"That was the last thing my father told me, 'Get a high school diploma,'" Duran said.
His older sister watched him graduate with pride -- hoping this would be the start of something new once he graduates in November.
"This day is about you, starting a difference," Baker told the grads. "The question remains for you and for us is, what do we do with the opportunity we've been given?"
Duran is hoping to get a barber's license and open his own shop once he's released.
"I can't wait. I'm just going to take it one step at a time," Duran said.