Graduation Day for CIU Student-Inmates

August 22, 2010

Graduates will travel to medium- and maximum-security prisons and bring positive change to the culture

Commencement ceremonies are Aug. 27 for a second group of CIU student-inmates who have completed a two-year associate degree program at a Columbia prison.

The 14 graduates are part of the CIU Prison Initiative. The qualified student-inmates take courses on the Old and New Testament, history and English, among other classes. They will be assigned to dormitories in nine medium- and maximum-security prisons across South Carolina, where they will incorporate their spiritual teachings in an effort improve the prison culture. The first group of 15 CIU student-inmates graduated from the program in 2008.

"It is a distinct privilege to have seen these men develop, grow, wrestle, change, and mature as they worked through each course," said Dr. David Osterlund, director of the CIU Prison Initiative. "Men who were in many cases just doing time, now have a motivation and reason for making the most of their time."

The director of the South Carolina Department of Corrections, Jon Ozmint, approached CIU about providing a faith-based curriculum to inmates after visiting a similar program at Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola provided by New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

"It was a moving experience in 2008 when the first group of inmates graduated from the CIU program," Mr. Ozmint said. "I was blessed to see the culmination of months of hard work by a number of different people. It was gratifying to see our first graduates head willingly into our prisons to make an impact in the lives of countless individuals and thereby improve the culture in our prisons, and I expect nothing less from this second group of men."