Acton Institute Powerblog

Bible College Credited as Major Reason for Angola Prison Transformation

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The Author Interviewing Inmate Pastor Jerome Derricks inside a Church at Angola Prison in 2012.
The author interviewing Inmate Pastor Jerome Derricks inside an Angola Prison Church in 2012.
The New York Times ran a piece over the weekend about the success of the bible college run through New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary at Angola Prison. Warden Burl Cain calls the college “the game changer,” and he added “It changed the culture of the prison.” Historically, Angola was known as one of the most violent and dangerous prisons in the country. Now Angola’s educational model is being replicated at other state penitentiaries across the nation.

Maybe surprising to some, even the ACLU has conceded the bible college is important to Angola’s inmates:

‘I think that what Burl Cain calls moral rehabilitation is, in his mind, religious doctrine, but a lot of good has come of it,’ Ms. Esman said. ‘I think it’s unfortunate that the only college available is a Christian one, but the fact that a college is there at all is important.’

Higher educational opportunities were pulled years ago from the prison because of budget cuts and as a result the bible college has come in to fill the educational vacuum.

Religion & Liberty interviewed Warden Cain in 2012. I took a tour of Angola Prison too and wrote a commentary about the spiritual transformation and revival among inmates. Recently, I touched on the impact of the inmate led hospice program at Angola.

Ray Nothstine Ray Nothstine is Associate Editor at the Acton Institute, and Managing Editor of Religion & Liberty. In 2005 Ray graduated with a Master of Divinity (M.Div) degree from Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Ky. He also holds a B.A. in Political Science from The University of Mississippi in Oxford. Before coming to Acton, Ray worked as a free-lance writer for several organizations, including the Institute on Religion and Democracy. He gained ministry experience in churches in Mississippi and Kentucky. After college, he also served on the staff of U.S. Congressman Gene Taylor (D-Miss) in Gulfport in 2001-02. The son of a retired Air Force pilot, Ray has also lived in Okinawa, Philadelphia, New England, Hawaii, and Egypt.

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