MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) -- Inmates at Central State Prison are serving the community by helping the visually impaired read. The prison's braille program turns criminals into transcribers
and transforms textbooks into books for students who use their sense of touch, instead of their sense of sight.
Larry Schneider and about two dozen other inmates at the prison in Bibb County are serving their time, while gaining a new scope on life.
"It's like learning a foreign language, there are over 100 characters in braille, you have to memorize all of them," says Schneider.
The inmates are responsible for transcribing textbooks for students in kindergarten through 12th grade.
The coordinator of the program Marie Amerson says, "It can involve months of work to get one textbook prepared."
Individuals are selected for the program based on their ability to read, write, and do math.
"They also need to have served a certain amount of their term because this is a long range kind of commitment for them," says Amerson.
Paul Rhodes is an inmate participating in the braille program and says, "To be in a place like this surrounded by so much negativity but then have an opportunity to take part in something so positive that kind of gives back to the community after knowing that I did what I did and I'm paying the consequences for what I did, but that I have an opportunity to help out and do something constructive with my time."
In addition to learning transcription, developing computer skills, gaining professional work experience, and the attention to detail required for braille, all while serving a sentence is a small price to pay for some mistakes.
Inmate Osric Adams says, "If you're successful in all of your daily activities in this type of situation it can't do anything but benefit you mentally."
Eighteen of the 25 men in the braille program have national certifications as literary braille transcribers.