CIU Dean Offers Solutions at National Conference on Prison Reform

November 07, 2019

The dean of the Columbia International University’s (CIU) School of Business & Professional Studies says prison inmates need to “think big and aim high” when they consider life after incarceration. Professor Scott Adams was a panelist at the American Conservative Union’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Philadelphia Nov. 7 as the conference focused on contemporary issues in the Prison and Criminal Justice System.

Adams says bringing business and entrepreneurship programs into the prison challenges inmates to think big. He tells inmates to “Think about business, think about where you want to go, take the skills that you have, elevate your attitude, (and say) ‘I want to run a business, I want to hire people, I want to be a business owner.’”

Adams appearance at the national event opened the opportunity to discuss CIU’s work on two fronts: The CIU Prison Initiative and Business Behind Bars.

The CIU Prison Initiative provides incarcerated persons with curriculum leading to an Associate of Arts degree. Graduates of the program are re-located to prisons throughout South Carolina, where they serve as chaplain assistants. This program has been incredibly successful, with a 0% recidivism rate. Business Behind Bars educates incarcerated persons about entrepreneurship, leadership and management and provides the skills necessary to grow and manage a successful business. The goal is to utilize the state-funded vocational skills provided in prison and direct inmates into successful post-incarceration enterprises.

Also during the panel discussion, Adams expressed his concern that female inmates are often left out of the post-incarceration discussion, which drew applause from the audience.

“When they are released they have special issues and problems that men may not have,” Adams said. What I’ve found in an entrepreneurial sense is that women are the most interested.”

Adams added that universities need to be incentivized into bringing courses into the prisons.

“This can be done online,” Adams said. “It can result in entrepreneurial opportunities. Let’s make it so (former inmates) can set up thriving businesses, employ people and make a difference in society.”

Columbia International University consistently ranks among the Top Regional Universities in the South by U.S. News & World Report. Request information on enrollment at CIU and Columbia Biblical Seminary or call (800) 777-2227, ext. 5024.