The third cohort of the Columbia International University Prison Initiative graduated on Aug. 26. The commencement speaker was a key figure in the development of the Initiative - former South Carolina Department of Corrections Director Jon Ozmint.
During his eight years as the corrections director, Ozmint worked with CIU to develop the Initiative that trains qualified inmates to be a positive influence throughout the prison system under the guidance of prison chaplains. Prison Initiative student-inmates earn an accredited Associate of Arts degree from CIU, and then are assigned as chaplain's assistants.
With 95 percent of South Carolina inmates returning to the streets, Ozmint and CIU recognized the need to equip incarcerated men with an accredited degree and faith development program; studies have shown that involvement in faith-based programs make prisons safer and reduce recidivism.
“We are so pleased with the positive impact of the Prison Initiative, both for inmates’ individual lives and for South Carolina’s prison system as a whole,” Ozmint told WIS TV in Columbia. “The program benefits all South Carolina taxpayers by empowering inmates to live above their circumstances, as responsible and accountable citizens during and after incarceration.”
The 2011 Prison Initiative class, which included male inmates who failed high school but later earned their GED, has a cumulative 3.77 grade point average on a 4.0 scale.
WIS TV contributed to this story. http://www.wistv.com/.