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Arizona inmates working to translate books for blind students

A group of 10 convicts near Eloy is studying to earn certifications that will allow them to translate books for blind students.

ELOY, Ariz. — A group of prison inmates near Eloy are working on a project that very few people can do, in an effort to give back to their community.

The inmates are taking part in a prison program that translates books to braille, a language of raised dots that allow the blind to read.

The crimes committed by those in the 10-man group vary, but all have taken something from society that can never be returned.

“I'm here for manslaughter and kidnapping,” said Gerald Galaway, an inmate working on the project. “So sort of a 32-year sentence.”

Galaway said each man there is on his own path to redemption. Galaway was convicted of kidnapping and killing his girlfriend, a Santa Cruz city attorney, in 2011 while the two were in Hawaii.

“You know, one thing that I've been searching for since I was incarcerated was an opportunity not only to improve who I am as a man but also give back to the community that, I guess in essence, we've all kind of taken something from,” said Galaway.

The program, held at the Saguaro Correctional Center, a medium-security prison, will focus on translating text books for blind students, something that the Foundation for Blind Children says is sorely needed.

“There are so many kids that are so bright, that could be learning the same as their sighted peers, that are just being left behind in classrooms because they don’t have books,” said Kelly Pritts of the Foundation for Blind Children. “What these guys are doing in these prison book programs is life-changing.”

The inmates will have to pass a complex series of certification programs before they can begin to translate detective books. It is a goal the inmates are working on together morning, noon, and night to accomplish.

“If we can allow our work to help out kids and let them be on par with their sighted classmates, that's a great gift that we can give them,” Galaway said.

The group is already halfway through the first of five certifications they’ll need to begin the translation process. They hope to complete the process by the end of the year.

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