“Redemption is real”: 14 more SC inmates graduate from the CIU Prison Initiative

SC Department of Corrections Director Bryan Stirling chats with the media about the effectiveness of the CIU Prison Initiative.
December 16, 2019

“Redemption is real.” The words of one of the graduates of the CIU Prison Initiative who received his Associate of Arts degree during commencement ceremonies at the Kirkland Correctional Institution. The prison is located just across the Broad River from CIU’s campus.

The CIU Prison Initiative equips qualified inmates through an accredited Associate of Arts degree, to reach fellow inmates with the message of Christ. After graduation, alumni of the CIU Prison Initiative are assigned as chaplain’s assistants at correctional facilities around the state.

At this year’s commencement, 12 graduates were awarded the A.S. degree and two former Prison Initiative graduates returned to receive their bachelor’s degree. Since its inception in 2007, 157 men and women have graduated from the program serving in more than 20 institutions with zero recidivism among graduates released from prison.

South Carolina Department of Corrections Director Bryan Stirling, who attended the ceremony, takes notice of the effectiveness of the program.

“It’s a degree that they’ll have that can’t be taken away from them, and you heard that all the people that left the Department of Corrections with this degree have not come back,” Stirling told WLTX TV in Columbia.

Another inmate told the TV station that he hopes “to lead more men to the Lord Jesus Christ, make a difference in the Department of Corrections and one day beyond as I return back into society.”

The Prison Initiative is supported by churches, businesses and interested individuals. By law, incarcerated inmates are not eligible for state or federal aid; therefore, the program is entirely donor funded.

Meanwhile, two graduates transferred to the Alabama Correctional Institution to help start a similar program there.

See the TV coverage of the 2019 CIU Prison Initiative commencement on WLTX TV and ABC Columbia. (State policy requires that names and faces not be published.)  

Learn more about the CIU Prison Initiative and how you can be a supporter.  

Columbia International University consistently ranks among the Top Regional Universities in the South by U.S. News & World Report. Excitement is growing on campus with increased enrollment and new academic programs such as the Master of Arts in Global MigrationRequest information on enrollment at CIU and Columbia Biblical Seminary or call (800) 777-2227, ext. 5024.