Once a highly successful trial lawyer, Dickie Scruggs is partnering with Meridian Community College to help adults earn a GED. He has implemented second chance Mississippi, a GED program, which he started after his time in prison.
“I was a lawyer, and I got in trouble. I got myself in trouble. I spent 6 years in federal prison.” Scruggs said.
In the 1990s Scruggs acquired riches and fame for taking on big tobacco companies. His leading role in the case was portrayed in the film, "The Insider". But in 2008 he pled guilty to judicial bribery and was disbarred and sent to prison.
While serving his sentence in federal prison, Scruggs helped inmates earn their GED.
“All my professional life I had been involved in things that gave me a sense of purpose. In prison, I lost that. I didn’t have any sense of purpose. I was completely irrelevant, and I realized in teaching it was giving me a new sense of purpose," He said. "It was one that was every bit as meaningful as anything that I’d ever done. And just that sense of purpose helped me survive 6 years in prison.”
Once released, Scruggs realized more adults needed his help.
“In Mississippi we have 15 thousand kids who drop out of school every year, and almost half a million adults in our state that didn’t graduate from high school. Only about half participate in the workforce." Scruggs explained.
He later began second chance Mississippi, an organization that provides support and funds for students trying to get their GED.
“One of the biggest struggles for the people that run the GED programs in the community colleges is what’s called wrap-around support. These students are all one flat-tire from dropping out again. And really there’s no money available for those support services. Child care, you might need a hundred bucks to get somebody’s lights turned on.” He added.
Scruggs says the organization is currently working to find local civic groups who will sponsor students needing assistance to complete the Meridian Community College's GED’s program.