Anthony Harvey dropped out of eighth grade and went on to become an established small-business owner in Fort Collins.
But it wasn't until he was charged with running one of Northern Colorado's largest cocaine-trafficking operations that he got his GED, or General Educational Development, diploma.
"The rug's been pulled out from under my feet," said Harvey, 35, of Fort Collins, adding that he "finally" had the time for the test.
Harvey was one of 55 Larimer County Jail inmates in 2011 to receive a GED certificate, taking the high school equivalency exam while behind bars. Hundreds of inmates receive tutoring for the test each year, but many leave the shorter-term facility before they take it.
Harvey was arrested Sept. 30. Less than a month later, he had his diploma.
'A step higher'Inmates arrive at the jail with a variety of educational backgrounds. Some are ready for the test in a few weeks, and others take four to five months, said Vicky Connell, programs manager with the Larimer County Sheriff's Office.
"We are a GED-testing site, and I believe we were the first facility in the state of Colorado to become a testing site," she said, adding that all materials are provided, tutors volunteer to help and test results are immediate.
The jail has graduated more than 1,300 inmates since it began offering the GED program in 1986.
About 10 to 15 inmates have requested to take the test in February, because it is one of several programs intended to help people from myriad backgrounds leave jail better prepared to be productive and law-abiding.