CHICAGO — Ex-inmates have appeared in Chicago federal court, not to face charges, but to receive certificates for completing a program that helps one-time convicts reintegrate into society.

Latif Jones told a graduation ceremony he once cried in shame at being sentenced for bank robbery. He said he cried at Thursday’s event from joy.

U.S. District Judge Sara Ellis oversaw his participation. She called the 36-year-old “a wonderful man with a giant heart” who now had a job and wants an arts degree.

Second Chance Program graduates also can get reductions in their supervised-release terms.

Chief Judge Ruben Castillo lamented that one program participant was a recent victim of city violence. Magistrate Judge Sidney Schenkier said ex-cons should have job opportunities, but that too often a record is “a modern-day scarlet letter.”