Nevada inmates help CCSD blind students

By Vanessa Murphy |, Bill Roe

Published 10/25 2016 03:14PM

Updated 10/25 2016 03:14PM

Copyright 2016 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Some students in Clark County schools are in need of some special attention and special books since they read braille.

This month is Blindness Awareness Month and 8 News NOW is bringing you exclusive access at one program to help those students.

An estimated 66,000 braille pages were created this year for blind students at the Clark County School District.

"I understand how important this work is, so I can't imagine what they're going through," said inmate Edwin Serrano.

He is part of a team making textbooks.

"History, biology, whatever."

Books filled with maps, drawings, and more.

"It's like typing. Once you learn how to type, you know how to type," Serrano said. "It's similar to that. A lot to remember, but it's worth it."

This work is all done from behind bars at the Southern Desert Correctional Center.

Serrano has been in prison for about three-and-a-half years.

"My frame of mind is a lot different," he said.

Serrano is serving time as a habitual offender due to his criminal history.

"My thinking, my intentions are a lot different than they used to be. I had a lot of problems with drugs and alcohol before."

His sentence which began in 2013 was five to 12-and-a-half years. Working on the books could earn him credit for time served and a paycheck.

Inmates start at $50 a month after they've completed classes and a test to earn certification.

This is a desirable job in the prison with few openings and just one instructor, Darlene Washington.

"I've never had any problem," she said.

This is the only program of its kind in the state. According to the district, 19 students in Clark County public schools read braille.

"They're really saving the district quite a bit of money," Washington said. "They are good workers and they do produce good work."

This could also help inmates land a job when they're released.

"I seen it as a vocation. Something I might be able to fall back on," Serrano said.

Washington says potential employers try to recruit inmates because people with this skill are in such high demand. 

"You need a little patience. You do need a little patience because it goes through a pretty rigorous process," Serrano said.

When you enter the room, it doesn't quite feel like a prison.

"This is another world in here.  You know there's a camaraderie in here," Serrano said.

There's a common goal, not only to create books, but to work toward closing a chapter in the lives of these men looking for a fresh start when they leave here.

Instructor Darlene Washington tells 8 News NOW there is a waiting list at the prison of about 20 inmates who are hoping for a spot in the braille program.

Copyright 2016 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.