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Former inmate says sign language changed his life

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ST. GABRIEL - A former Department of Corrections inmate says learning sign language while behind bars changed his life.

Scott Huffman served nearly four years in Rayburn Correctional Center. He was released three months ago.

"Before prison I was wild. I was involved in drugs and drinking, selling drugs, just a lot of negative activity," he said. "You know it really effected me. Sometimes you'd be depressed or upset because you're stuck."

While locked up Huffman longed for something to look forward to in life. He says sign language filled that void.

"Now I had a purpose in life. Whereas before I didn't really feel my purpose," said Huffman.

While in prison Huffman participated in a three-year sign language interpreter program offered by the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections (DPS&C). It's the only program of that nature offered to offenders in the country, according to DPS&C. There's more than 2,000 hearing impaired offenders in DOC custody in Louisiana.

Thursday Huffman returned to prison. This time he was at Hunt Correctional Center as a free man to guide his former classmates to a better life.

"I hope they see that when they get released from prison they have opportunities to do whatever they want. There's a long list of professions, most importantly the interpreting profession," he said.

Hoffman is now certified as a sign language interpreter and says he plans to never return to prison.


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