Wyoming’s prison system boasts the second best recidivism rate in the country. Twenty-five percent of offenders in the state will return to prison for a parole violation or new crime—compared to 40 percent nationally. The Wyoming Department of Corrections credits its education programs—including a mandatory G.E.D course for all inmates without a high school degree— with keeping inmates from landing back behind bars.
Zach Fuhrer dropped out of high school at age 17 and had no intention of ever setting foot in another classroom.
“It was a struggle for me,” Fuhrer says. “I didn’t want to go to school, man. I’d rather work and make money, you know what I mean?”
Now 31, Fuhrer is serving three to five years in the Wyoming Medium Correctional Institution in Torrington for aggravated assault.
When he got here in June, the Corrections staff told him he was required to take the Adult Basic Education—or A.B.E. class—and work toward a high school equivalency certificate—similar to a GED. Fuhrer didn’t think he could handle it.