Part I: CDL Program at Graceville Correctional Facility Teaches Residents to Believe in Themselves and Their Abilities

“Residents are very excited about the program and the opportunities that it brings,” says Scott Middlebrooks, warden of the Graceville Correctional Facility in Graceville, FL.

The commercial driver’s license (CDL) being offered at the Graceville facility is making a big impact on many of the residents.

“Drive a truck,” says instructor Catherine Todd. “It’s great. The money is fantastic.”

Graceville CDL Part Still
Catherine Todd, CDL instructor.

Catherine teaches the program at Graceville. A lifelong trucker herself, she motivates the men to get excited about the career opportunities she has experienced firsthand. Francisco Ceija is one of her students.

“I tell her that it’s been a blessing from God,” Francisco states. “She’s a really good person and really understands the problems that we have as inmates.”

Francisco will be released soon and is preparing to support his family by driving trucks for a living. “I already have a plan. I’ve been talking with my family and wife about the program, and I think they’re really excited about what I’m doing.”

“It gives them a goal to work toward that they know when they get out,” explains Warden Middlebrooks. “They’ll be able to get a job and support themselves and their families.”

Graceville CDL Part Still
Residents practice on driving simulators during class.

Not too far away from Graceville, the Gadsden Correctional Facility in Quincy, FL, also offers the CDL program. In Part II of this story, we take a look at the success they’re experiencing and visit with a graduate who is now a professional driver.

A recent hire at Graceville, and new to teaching all together, Catherine is happy to have discovered another love of her professional life besides trucking: Teaching the craft to the men at Graceville.

“And to have the opportunity to change someone’s life, whether it be one or 100, it’s very gratifying. Very gratifying.”

“I believe in this facility,” says Francisco. “I believe in them, because they put the program in my path. They also believe in me because I’m working hard to complete this program and become a professional driver.”

Graceville CDL Part Still
Francisco Ceija, resident.