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The mayor of South Carolina’s capital city encouraged the student-inmates in the CIU Prison Initiative to share “the love of Jesus Christ,” which is “an awesome responsibility and opportunity.”
Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin toured the facilities of the CIU program that trains qualified South Carolina inmates to minister throughout the state prison system as they earn a CIU Associate of Arts degree. The program is housed at the Kirkland Correctional Institution, part of a sprawling prison facility just across the Broad River from CIU’s main campus in Columbia.
Benjamin spoke to over two dozen CIU student-inmates about the importance of their work. He told them about his Christian faith and the influence of his parents and grandparents in fostering that faith. The mayor also reminded the student-inmates that “sharing the Word of God and proselytizing” is important because “a closer relationship with the Lord and Savior” will help many people over the challenges they face.
Benjamin also praised CIU as “such a wonderful part of the fabric of this community.”
The mayor’s remarks were followed by a question and answer time with the student-inmates. They told the mayor that they pray for him, and encouraged him to support mentoring programs for troubled youth in the community to keep them out of a life of crime.
They also asked him to let others know about the CIU Prison Initiative.
“It has given me a sense of structure and purpose in my life,” said a student-inmate named Braun. (Full names of inmates are withheld for security purposes.) “It sent me into a dream that I never thought would come true. My mama would have never thought I was going to go to college.”
Benjamin assured the student-inmates that he will tell others about the program, and said the CIU Prison Initiative even came up during a recent visit he made to the White House.
For more on the CIU Prison Initiative visit http://www.ciu.edu/prison-initiative.