NASHVILLE, Tennessee (WTVF) – Three inmates at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution achieved the highest braille certification on Friday, joining two other offenders in their class as part of the Tennessee Rehabilitative Initiative in Correction (TRICOR) braille program where they transcribe textbooks for students at Tennessee School for the Blind.

“It’s a rare job that I haven’t heard of, but it’s rewarding,” said Adrian Gregory, 31, a prisoner at Riverbend maximum security facility.

Gregory joined about 65 other people in the United States on Friday who also achieved the highest achievement in braille, the National Braille Association Braille Textbook Formatting Certification.

Gregory has been in jail for 11.5 years and has 14 months left.

“It’s been a long road,” he said with tears in his eyes. “Since I was 19, I’ve been 31. I’ve done 11 and a half. I’m 14 months old but so I’m ready to go. It’s been a long road. It’s going to be emotional to come out. of that portal. “

When he leaves prison, not only will he be a free man, but he will have the skills necessary for a lucrative career as a Braille translator.

Claire Kopsky

Adrian Gregory received the National Braille Association Textbook Formatting Certification, Highest Achievement in Braille, on December 10, 2021, at the Riverbend Maximum Security Institution.

“We have 15 guys here who can transcribe,” said Deb Krise, Braille teacher and TRICOR program director. “You can have a list of just three contractors that you can reach on the street – they can’t do it all. We have 15 guys who can work on your job to make sure you do it, you do it in a timely manner. . So that they are very happy with it. And now that we have switched to large print, it is even better. Their teachers are really excited about it. “

The 30 inmate program at Riverbend aims to teach participating inmates to read and transcribe braille over the course of several years. Then they work on free textbook transcription for the Tennessee School for the Blind.

“The standard has always been, ‘We will not accept anything less than the best from you. “And to know it, to have this standard and to live up to it. They are grateful. They are grateful. It takes a lot of things away from them, ”Krise explained.

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Claire Kopsky

Learning the braille language takes several years to become proficient.

“I read these textbooks sometimes and they are clearly not meant to be read by a blind student and these things have also been learned to describe to the child by doing it in braille,” Gregory said. “For example, the graphics. And they’re looking for textures to learn the levels of a plant or something and try to learn that. Knowing that you could somehow give them the same experience as us. are lucky enough to have, it’s really awesome. “

Krise explained that not all offenders at Riverbend are eligible for the braille program, saying they have to be at a certain level of security, cannot commit any disciplinary offenses, and have at least five left. years of trouble, because braille takes years to learn.

“Once they get the interview, we have an assessment exam: math, reading, inference grids. look when you look at this. You must have a good understanding of the English language and vocabulary.

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Claire Kopsky

Tennessee Rehabilitative Initiative in Correction Braille teacher and program director Deb Krise

Gregory said that once accepted into the program, he realized how useful the skill would be when he finished his sentence.

“When I leave these walls, I mean there’s a lot of money, you know, and it’s rewarding work. So those two things combined when I leave this leave here, after all, the weather will really be. beneficial to me and my future family and all those things, “he said. “I thought, you know, when I left here, I wouldn’t have a chance to do much, you know, maybe construction or something. But, to have this opportunity to being able to have a job where I can use my mind instead of my body. “

Krise said she was often asked about her decision to teach Braille in a prison.

“I work in a prison. Maximum security prison with bad guys, good guys, police, rules. But that’s not always what you see on TV. There are people here who just did a bad choices and who just have never had a chance in life, “she said. “Each of them wants to make a difference. You know, even if you’ve done a bad thing, you might not be a bad person. You just made a bad choice. And you can’t sit down. and tell it to the people, but you can prove it by your works and your good deeds. “

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Claire Kopsky

Thirty offenders from Riverbend Maximum Security Institution participated in the Tennessee Rehabilitative Initiative in Correction (TRICOR) Textbook transcription braille program for students at Tennessee School for the Blind.

Various TRICOR programs are offered at many Tennessee Department of Corrections correctional facilities across the state. “Our goal is that not every person comes back. come back to jail. “

Gregory plans to open his own braille business once released and said he was grateful for the years of training he received: “It’s a great opportunity to get out there and, you know, get up and go. to go. So, I really appreciate it. That’s why I’ve been here for as long as I have and I’m sticking to it. Because, while I might not see the fruits of it now, I know in the future I will.

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Claire Kopsky

Adrian Gregory received his textbook formatting certification from the National Braille Association on December 10, 2021, joining about 65 other people nationwide.