(MNN) — A college education is a nearly-impossible dream for most
prison inmates. However, Crossroad Bible
Institute is piloting a program offering college courses to incarcerated
students from Iowa's
Newton Correctional Facility.
This provides a traditional "classroom" experience
with lectures, a midterm, and a final exam. The course work helps cultivate the
spiritual lives of students, which has the most lasting impact upon their
re-entry into society.
Last fall, CBI students took a course in biblical hermeneutics,
and this spring students finished a course in systematic theology. Upon release, these and other courses are
designed to prepare students for completing a degree at the college of their
One challenge facing the program is the mobility of the
prison population. As inmates are
transferred out or released, it becomes much harder to track the students'
progress. Ordinarily, similar student
body fluidity could pose a problem for most traditional classes offered in
prison. Crossroad Bible Institute's
program works around that.
If a student
is transferred to a new facility or released from prison, he can continue his
studies through CBI's distance education program. His lessons will continue to
be corrected by a volunteer instructor who will return each lesson along with a
personal letter of encouragement.
The early stages of testing on this program are
encouraging. The ministry hopes to see
"satellite campuses" as a result of this outreach program.