The Southwestern Baptist Theology Seminary located in Houston Texas, has teamed up with one of Texas's maximum security prisons, Rosharon, to allow a select few inmates to receive a Bachelor of Science degree in Biblical Studies.
The program, which is supported by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, the Southwest Theological Seminary, Southern Baptists of Texas Convention and the Heart of Texas Foundation, enrolled it's first students on Monday, Aug. 29th, 2011. The seminary, which is currently being held at Texas Department of Criminal Justice's Darrington Unit in Rosharon, has accepted 40 inmates for this non-denominational program.
because we believe above all else that God uses His Gospel, given in His Word, to change people’s lives, to take the worst of the worst, to take sinners and transform them into Christlike saints.”
Southwestern Seminary professors pass through a series of security checkpoints to access the education wing of Darrington Unit, where the inmates will receive their training in Biblical Studies. The accredited bachelors' degree program is 125 hours long and is taught and supervised by three full-time and two adjunct professors from Southwestern Seminar. 2011 saw 39 students accepted out of 700 applications. To qualify for the program, students must have a high school diploma or GED, good behavioral records within prison for at least a year, have ten years remaining until eligibility for parole and a genuine desire to serve other inmates.
“The seminary program has the potential to help these men change their thought patterns, which in turn can change their lives, and the lives of everyone around them,” Texas Department of Criminal Justice Executive Director Brad Livingston said in a press release. “We are proud to be a part of this innovative program, and we expect great results."
Livingston believes that "the men who complete this four-year program will be a powerful voice to other inmates seeking to get their lives back on track, and will aid us in successfully reintegrating these inmates back into society."
Once the prison inmates/students receive their degree, they will be assigned to a Texas prison to minister to the spiritual needs of fellow inmates. When and if they are ever released, they will be able to become ministers of which ever denominational church they choose.
The program is funded entirely through private donations, and various grants and no tax payer money is used. The program hopes to expand it's student base to include 40 more students in the future.
To read more about the Southwestern Baptist Theological Society please read here...