Note: For current year broadcasts, click “Radio” on the Main Menu.
“Deep in the Heart” Radio Network
A Weekly Devotional for Inmates
and Others Who Stop By
Here is the complete collection of Archived “Deep in the Heart” Radio programs, broadcast from Rainbow Cabin (prior to its total loss in fire), and now from “Shiloh Farm,” out on the rolling prairie west of Houston Texas. Each program is approximately 25 minutes in length, and is hosted by Grove Norwood. This current year’s broadcasts may be heard by clicking on “Radio” here, or on the Main Menu.
- July 8, 2012 — “Can The God of the Bible Use Broken Pieces?”
- July 15, 2012 — “Picking Up the Broken Pieces“
- July 22, 2012 — “Jesus said ‘Let Nothing Be Wasted– Bring’em to Me ‘”
- July 29, 2012 — “What’s the Big Deal About Forgiveness?”
- August 5, 2012 — “Why Should I Forgive Someone I Hate?”
- August 12, 2012 — “How Do I Forgive Someone I Hate?”
- August 19, 2012 — “Part 1: How Do I Forgive Myself? Why Can’t I Seem to Do That?”
- August 26, 2012 — “Part 2: How Do I Forgive Myself? Does God Need My Help?”
- September 2, 2012 — “Part 3: How Do I Forgive Myself? Uncovering The Myth.”
- September 9, 2012 — “Part 4: “If I Don’t Have to Forgive Myself, Why Do I Still Feel Bad?”
- September 16, 2012 — “The Longing for Home: Over the Rainbow”
- September 23, 2012 — “What’s Your Answer to Yearning, Dreaming, Wishing?”
- September 30, 2012 — “Facts Behind the Faith, 1”
- October 7, 2012 — “Facts Behind the Faith, 2”
- October 14, 2012 — “Facts Behind the Faith, 3: Was Jesus Predicted in the Old Testament?”
- October 21, 2012 — “Facts Behind the Faith, 4: Introduction to The Great Address”
- October 28, 2012 — “Facts Behind the Faith, 5: Predictions of the ‘One Who Was to Come'”
- November 4, 2012 — “Facts Behind the Faith, 6: The Probability of Jesus Being Messiah”
- November 11, 2012 — “Facts Behind the Faith, 7: Unique Bible: You Can’t Make This Up!”
- November 18, 2012 — “Facts Behind the Faith, 8: The Academy Awards for Books”
- November 25, 2012 — “The Love Thermometer”
- December 2, 2012 — “Thanksgiving Pecans & Hope”
- December 9, 2012 — “The Pole Star and Bethlehem”
- December 16, 2012 — “Evening Devotional”
- December 23, 2012 — “Evening Devotional”
- December 30, 2012 — “Grove’s Complaint”
- January 6, 2013 — “Something Else Happens — The God Who Hides”, Part 1
- January 13, 2013 — “Something Else Happens — The God Who Hides,” Part 2
- January 20, 2013 — “Something Else Happens — The God Who Hides,” Part 3
- January 27, 2013 — “Something Else Happens — The God Who Hides,” Part 4
- February 3, 2013 — “Something Else Happens — The God Who Hides,” Part 5
- February 10, 2013 — “Something Else Happens — The God Who Hides” Part 6
- February 17, 2013 — “Something Else Happens — The God Who Hides” Part 7
- February 24, 2013 — “The Volunteer Who Changed History”
- March 3, 2013 — “Devotional from Rainbow Cabin”
- March 10, 2013 — “What is a Redeemer? What Does He Do?”
- March 17, 2013 — “The Seed of the Gospel: It’s More Gospel Than the Gospel”
- March 24, 2013 — “The Hope Within Our Heart– for America’s Prisons”
- March 31, 2013 — “Why the Lamb at Easter?”
- April 7, 2013 — “The Death Row Question: Why Evil & Suffering?” — Part 1, Easter Morning
- April 14, 2013 — “The Death Row Question: Why Evil & Suffering?” — Part 2
- April 21, 2013 — “The Death Row Question: Why Evil & Suffering?” — Part 3
- April 28, 2013 — “The Death Row Question: Why Evil & Suffering” — Part 4
- May 5, 2013 — “The Death Row Question: Why Evil & Suffering?” — Part 5
- May 12, 2013 — “The Death Row Question: Why Evil & Suffering?” — Part 6
- May 19, 2013 — “The Death Row Question: Why Evil & Suffering?” — Part 7
- May 26, 2013 — “Does A Father’s Love Include His Discipline?” — Part 8
- June 2, 2013 — “God’s Invisible Qualities & Divine Nature” Part 1
- June 9, 2013 — “God’s Invisible Qualities & Divine Nature” Part 2
- June 16, 2013 — “Darrington Prison Seminary & Message from Angola Death Row”
- June 23, 2013 — “Message to Caregivers of Children With Incarcerated Parents”
- June 30, 2013 — “Jailhouse Religion– Is it Real?”
- July 7, 2013 — “Jailhouse Religion — What Happens?”
- July 14, 2013 — “Jailhouse Religion — The Changed Life“
- July 21, 2013 — “Jailhouse Religion — How Does It Happen?”
- July 28, 2013 — “Jailhouse Religion — The Gift of Faith”
- August 4, 2013 — “Jailhouse Religion — “Confession Is Not Possession”
- August 11, 2013 — “Generalized Principles — Science and Spirit”
- August 18, 2013 — “Seek Me, and Even If You’re a Wild Man, You Will Find Me”
- August 25, 2013 — “He Created Them, After Their Kind”
- September 1, 2013 — “God’s Grace Shows Up– On Death Row”
- September 8, 2013 — “Common Grace Isn’t Special Grace”
- September 15, 2013 — “The Storms of Life”
- September 22, 2013 — “Shipwreck Requires Unconventional Responses”
- September 29, 2013 — “Storms Produce the Cry for Help”
- October 6, 2013 — “Children and Malachi Dads”
- October 13, 2013 — “Children and Prison Dads”
- October 20, 2013 — “Praising Your Child Requires Specifics”
- October 27, 2013 — “The Importance of Praise as a Blessing”
- November 3, 2013 — “Dads Are Worth Poetry”
- November 10, 2013 — “A Dad’s Heart”
- November 17, 2013 — “Letters from The Father to Sons”
- November 24, 2013 — “More Love Letters from the Father”
- December 1, 2013 — “Jesus Describes the Forgiving Father & Reconciliation”
- December 8, 2013 — “Solomon’s Fatherly Advice about Wisdom“
- December 15, 2013 — “The First Christmas Wasn’t in Bethlehem”
- December 22, 2013 — “Christmas at Rainbow Cabin”
- December 29, 2013 — “Start the New Year: Are You Willing to Investigate?”
- January 5, 2014 — “The General Revelation, Part 1”
- January 12, 2014 — Grove Preaches at Simonton Church: “The Most Unprayed Prayer on Planet Earth.”
- January 12, 2014 — “The General Revelation, Part 2”
- January 19, 2014 — “The General Revelation, Part 3, After the Rainbow Cabin Fire”
- January 26, 2014 — “The Rainbow Cabin Fire & God’s Providence”
- February 2, 2014 — “Revelation of the Second Kind, Introduction”
- February 9, 2014 — “Revelation of the Second Kind, Part 1”
- February 16, 2014 — “Revelation of the Second Kind, Part 2”
- February 23, 2014 — “Revelation of the Third Kind, Part 1”
- March 2, 2014 — “Revelation of the Third Kind, Part 2”
- March 9, 2014 — “Revelation of the Third Kind, Part 3”
- March 16, 2014 — “Revelation of the Third Kind, Part 4”
- March 23, 2014 — “Revelation of the Third Kind, Part 5”
- March 30, 2014 — “Revelation of the Third Kind, Part 6”
- April 6, 2014 — “Revelation of the Third Kind, Part 7”
- April 13, 2014 — “The Most Unprayed Prayer on Earth, Part 1”
- April 20, 2014 — “Update on the Darrington Penitentiary Seminary “
- April 27, 2014 — “The Most Unprayed Prayer on Earth, Part 2”
- May 4, 2014 — “The Most Unprayed Prayer on Earth, Part 3”
- May 11, 2014 — “The Most Unprayed Prayer on Earth, Part 4”
- May 18, 2014 — “The Prison Epistles — Letters from Inmates”
- May 25, 2014 — “The Prison Epistles & Letters from Prison”
- June 1, 2014 — “The Prison Epistles & Letters from Prison”
- June 8, 2014 — “The Letter to Philemon, From Prison”
- June 15, 2014 — “Prison is Significant in the Bible”
- June 22, 2014 — “The Famous Inmate Who Fell in Love with Christ”
- June 29, 2014 — “People on the Outside Meet The Heart of a Prisoner”
- July 6, 2014 — “A Key Attribute of the God of the Bible”
- July 13, 2014 — “A Key Attribute, Part 2”
- July 20, 2014 — “Why Look to Jesus Christ? Isn’t God Enough?”
- July 27, 2014 — “The Overarching Element in the Bible — Is a Person”
- August 3, 2014 — “Fruits: The Southwestern Seminary at Darrington– Why and How?” Part 1
- August 10, 2014 — “The Southwestern Seminary at Darrington– Why & How?” Part 2
- August 17, 2014 — “The Southwestern Seminary at Darrington– Why & How?” Part 3
- August 24, 2014 — “The Southwestern Seminary at Darrington– Why & How?” Part 4
- August 31, 2014 — “The Southwestern Seminary at Darrington– Why & How?” Part 5
- September 7, 2014 — “The Mind of Christ: What Do YOU Do With Stress?”
- September 14, 2014 — “Malachi Dads Program and The Children of Imprisoned Fathers”
- September 21, 2014 — “Where do you go for hope when things are hopeless?”
- September 28, 2014 — “Where do you go for hope when things are hopeless?” Part 2″
- October 5, 2014 — “Another Look at the Greater Good Out of Tragedy”
- October 12, 2014 — “The Blood Moon”
- October 19, 2014 — “Another Look at Jailhouse Religion”
- October 26, 2014 — “Longterm Relationships Depend on This”
- November 02, 2014 — “Biblical Tips on Communicating Wisely”
- November 9, 2014 — “Friends”
- November 16, 2014 — “The Friend Who Sticks Closer Than a Brother”
- November 23, 2014 –“The Friend Who Sticks Closer Than a Brother, Part 2”
- November 30, 2014 — “The Friend Who Will Transform Your Life”
- December 7, 2014 — “A Close Look at the Transformed Life, and Its Mystery– Part 1”
- December 14, 2014 — “The Transformed Life, and Its Mystery– Part 2”
- December 21, 2014 — “The Transformed Life: A Nice Man, or A New Man?”
- December 28, 2014 — “Jesus Explains How The Change Occurs”
New York: October 4, 2013. New York Times released article on the Angola Seminary Bible College, mentioning the Texas prison Seminary (Darrington). Read more.
See the Slideshow published by the New York Times on the Angola Bible College.
The Darrington Penitentiary Seminary, an extension campus of The Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, is privately funded by The Heart of Texas Foundation donors. This picture was taken right after Governor Rick Perry’s historic visit to the Seminary in July of 2012, where he visited with the men, shared his heart with them, and encouraged them to persevere in their studies and their desires to give back “betterness instead of bitterness” and to serve out their long-term sentences in service to others as Field Ministers in prisons throughout Texas.
Paul Gray, For
mer Inmate– from reform school to five Penitentiaries in three states– then Christ, a Master’s Degree– and now, giving hope to others–
How Paul found the forgiveness of God. And how Grove found Paul.
This video you are about to click on, below, is 18 minutes long. It was taken with a hand-held camera over 25 years ago. It tells the story in Paul’s own words– first arrested when he was 10 years old; a life of reform schools, and then penitentiaries in Texas, New Jersey, and New York. He was the “toughest of the tough,” serving time in such infamous American prisons as Darrington, Walls, Attica, Albion, and Sing Sing. Then, unexpectedly, Christ did a heart transplant in Paul, exactly as described in Ezekiel 36:26-27, where God says “I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit.” After multiple incarcerations, something else happened. Christ changed his heart, and once he was released, he never went to prison again— except to share Christ with the inmates! Hear Paul describe what happened in his own words by watching this video link, provided below.
But let us tell you– a copy of this little video footage was given to Grove by a veteran Kairos volunteer. The veteran had carried this video in his briefcase for years. He said, “Here, Grove, watch this. You can keep it. I’ve seen it many times.” Grove took it home, and late one night, he watched what you are about to see.
After watching this video, Grove could not get the man Paul Gray out of his mind. So over a period of time, late at night, Grove began to search for this Paul Gray on the web. It seemed impossible. Grove remembers, “There were ‘Paul Gray contractors,’ ‘Paul Gray lawyers,’ ‘Paul Gray accountants,’ as well as car dealerships, you name it. But no ‘Paul Gray former inmate who had come to Christ.’ “
After many nights, late one night Grove found a Google-link to a “Paul Gray, Correctional Counselor” in New York. Grove thought, “Hmmmmm. Corrections. Counseling. New York. I’ll give this one a shot.” So he sent an email some time after midnight. The next morning, as Grove drive to the Gulf for a fishing trip with his son, Grove’s cell phone rang. A voice said, “This is Paul Gray.”
And the two connected that Saturday morning.
Grove learned that, after more than twenty-five years, Paul is still doing his best to walk as a believing Son of The God of the Bible. Paul has been into Texas prisons with Grove, and shared his testimony. You’ll be blessed to hear his testimony as a young man, still preserved in this hand-held video, taken some time in the early 80’s.
Paul went to be with the Lord in June of 2011, after a long fight with cancer. He had moved to Texas to work with The Heart of Texas Foundation and Grove was blessed to spend many hours with him during Paul’s final week. His caregivers, Peggy and Jeff Townley of Simonton, Texas, were there with Paul until the end. We will miss him. But his testimony stands.
Then, if you wish, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will make it possible for you to go into a penitentiary as a Kairos volunteer, no strings attached. Just be a servant, and watch what happens. Men and women, too!
I’m getting ready for the second of our “Key Players” meetings. These are working sessions for all the stakeholders in the new Texas Seminary Bible College, the state’s first 4-year, accredited Bible College for inmates. As you may know,
the stakeholders are:
- The Texas Department of Criminal Justice
- The Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
- The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention
- The Darrington Maximum-Security Penitentiary
- The Heart of Texas Foundation (Project Manager)
The Texas Prison Seminary is modeled after Warden Burl Cain’s Bible College, operated in the Louisiana State Penitentiary, in Angola, LA. Their Bible College is now about 14 years old, has graduated over 200 men with BA Degrees, and has been the major cause of the culture change in the famed Angola prison. We are fortunate enought to have received encouragement and mentorship from Warden Burl Cain. The sponsoring university in Louisiana is the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Dr. Chuck Kelly, President.
I was asked by the Stakeholders to be Project Manager for the initiation of the Bible College here in Texas, and have been honored to report for duty. All of us are working on the project, and the Key Players meetings are where I am able to bring all the decision makers together to report on their progress. We will have a total of about 5 of these before school begins in the Fall of 2011.
Next Monday we’ll have a great meeting at the famed Taste of Texas Restaurant, enjoying the hospitality and help from Owners Edd and Nina Hendee. I’ll write more on the results of the meeting next week, and maybe have some pictures to show you! ~~ Grove Norwood.
BIBLE COLLEGE DELEGATION–KEY PLAYERS MEETING #1
August 9, 2010
The Taste of Texas Restaurant
Grove Norwood opened the meeting by
introducing all the Key Players:
Rick Thaler, TDCJ Director of Correctional Institutions Division
Madeline Ortiz, TDCJ Director of Rehabilitation Programs
Brian Collier, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Deputy Executive Director
Brad Livingston, TDCJ Executive Director
John Whitmire, Chairman, Texas State Crimanl Justice Committee;
State Senator, Texas
Senator Whitmire thanked Dan Patrick, TDJC staff, and Warden Cain
Dan Patrick, State Senator, Texas
Senator Patrick thanked John Whitmire for being legislatively in charge of prisons. He wanted John on board for this prison initiative because “John makes things happen.” Change, he noted, begins with the first step. And the first step in this Bible College program was the trip to Angola. The meeting this morning was the second step.
Terry Bryan, College of Biblical Studies, Director of Operations.
Terry shared a story about his wife’s grandfather, whose funeral was held today. His father-in-law’s wishes were that Terry be here at this historical meeting rather than at the funeral.
Joe Davis, CFO, Southern Baptists of Texas Convention
Craig Blaising, PhD, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Executive Vice President, Provost.
Dr. Blaising expressed his amazement after his visit to Angola and having observed
the effect the Bible College had made on that prison.
Denny Autrey, PhD, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary,
Dean, Houston Campus
Burl Cain, Senior Warden, Louisiana State Penitentiary.
Grove Norwood told a story of how Burl Cain lassoed an alligator gar.
Grove then handed him a framed photograph of a lasso.
The Meeting Begins
Warden Cain opened the discussion with the fact that this meeting to open a Bible College in Texas prisons was, in his words, “bigger than us. Louisiana got a free college with no tax dollars. It changed us all. As inmates became moral, we on the staff of the prison had to change our behaviors, as well. Moral people are different.”
Those who have graduated from the Bible College have become counselors to other inmates when the chaplain goes home for the night,” Warden Cain continued. The religious community bought into it. Because the Angola Bible College opened the door to all faiths, there were no suits brought by the ACLU.
The Warden stressed that it takes a total commitment. The security staff are what make the program flow. The staff has to be 100% committed. The program must be initiated and driven by the security side, not the Chaplaincy side. The Chaplaincy side will have a major role in providing support to the students and graduates, but Chaplaincy will not have the responsibility for making the program a success. That job will be security’s— i.e., the Warden’s.
Grove said “We’re making history for Southwestern Seminary, TDJC, and the Texas Senate.” He then handed out the “Life” DVD to all the Key Players. Grove also mentioned that another trip to Angola for TDJC Key Players will be scheduled. “We want TDJC to have that same ‘fire in the belly’ for this project.” He indicated that he would be taking additional delegations to Angola in October of this year.
ITEMS ON THE AUGUST 9 MEETING AGENDA:
- WHERE THE COLLEGE WOULD BE LOCATED: Logistics and space for the college were of prime consideration. There had to be room for classrooms, a library, and a computer lab.
Dr. Blaising suggested that the Bible College be administered by their Houston Havard Extension campus off the Gulf Freeway, an extension college of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The Darrington prison appeared to be logistically the best location because teachers lived nearby. He felt this unit was the most feasible for us in the beginning.
According to Brian Collier, there were 3 possibilities. The key factor was whether facilities could be shared or designated exclusively to the college. After some discussion, Darrington was chosen as the best fit for the first extension campus, Logistics and facility being the primary reason.
Dr. Blaising stated that Darrington was indeed the strongest location for a beginning college because they would have the staff living nearby. Staff would not have long driving trips to get to the prison.
The need for a computer lab was discussed, as well as the Theological library that must be in place at some point. Both would be dedicated spaces. Both must be approved by the Accrediting body, the SACS.
Warden Cain mentioned that the library at Angola is small, as is the computer room. He also stated that, at Angola, the students have no other jobs in the prison. They are students first. That is their only job. They receive special pay as students and attend class 8-4:30 five days a week.
Senator Whitmire felt that Darrington seemed to be the ideal place, a model for real impact in the state. He also felt that surplus modular buildings could be found in the state (possibly through the National Guard) if they were to be needed. Senator Patrick agreed that Darrington was at the top of the list.
Joe Davis suggested the possibility of having volunteers from the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention build the modular units. Of course, if space at Darrington could be found, there would be no need for modular units.
The consensus was for Darrington unit to house the first Bible College. Senator Whitmire suggested that the ball was now in TDJC’s court as to whether that would work.
Dr. Autrey suggested that they would need a secure place for professors to hang their hats.
Senator Patrick summed up the fact that, for the modular buildings, we need to 1)raise money, 2) use inmate labor, or 3) utilize SW Baptist Convention labor.
Warden Cain suggested that SW Baptist could build the structures then donate them back to the prison.
Before going on to the rest of the meeting’s agenda, Dr. Blaising wanted to talk about the key players in the prison who would be involved in this project–chaplains, coordinators, etc.
2. STRUCTURE OF FUNDING FOR THE COLLEGE
Needed are start up costs for books, computers, etc.
Warden Cain emphasized that the warden and security staff of the prison had to be on board. The chaplain, he explained, was not as important for the actual execution of the Seminary program. The Bible College Director at Angola answers to the Warden, and does not answer to the chaplain. Someone from TDJC mentioned that if there was a problem with the program, the warden would be called, and Warden Cain said, “That is the most important thing said today.” The warden would be called. The priority and responsibility for the program lies primarily with the warden of the prison.
Warden Cain also insisted that the attitude at the top is crucial.
Senator Whitmire added that there had to be a personal commitment for the warden, and Grove said that Warden of Darrington would definitely be behind this. Also, Darrington’s a new assistant warden is behind the initiative. Donald Lacy is the chaplain at Darrington, and he, too, is behind this. It was suggested that the whole team needs to go to Angola to see how the program operates there. Grove said he would be sure that happened.
Joe Davis said there are 2200 churches involved with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. Their funding comes through the “Cooperative Program.” All ministries are funded through this “Cooperative Program.” Additional requests can be made through the board. As of this date, they do not have funding set aside for this year or next year.
The questions was raised as to how much money would be needed, how long the funding would be required, the ongoing costs, and what monies would be needed for management of the system.
Via Skype, Dr. Jimmy Dukes, PhD, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Extension Campus Director, talked about the startup costs.
Textbooks $30-50 each multiplied by the number of students
(at 5 classes/semester–probably need $8,000)
Computers for 40-60 students
We could try to keep the textbooks and use them over. Paper & pencils at Angola were given by the prison to the inmates. Fifteen computers would be needed, and the computers would have no modems and no internet capability.
Angola hires and pays the Bible College Director directly from the Prison budget (approx. $30,000, plus a stipend). In that way, the Director is answerable to the warden. This kept the director accountable to the prison and to the warden, and all the students know that the Director represents the Warden at all times.
Brad Livingston was not sure how that might work in Texas, but wanted to look more into how the Directorship should be structured.
Dr. Dukes further stated that there was no tuition at Angola, there was no income to the seminary at all. Nor was there a charge to the students.
Warden Cain felt that about $55,000 was sufficient to run the school for the year.
Dr. Blaising said that funding for the seminary would come through endowments, through the “Cooperative Program.” Rather than tuition, funding would all fall on scholarships. Professors would be paid as adjuncts. Ten courses per year at $55,000. 16-17 hours per semester; $55,0000 for teachers and textbooks. Each year, new textbooks would probably need to be provided for the students. Some could be reused for the new freshmen. A set of textbooks for 4 years would probably cost about $32,000.
Senator Patrick tallied the needs: 15 computers, library books, textbooks–$55,000; director–$30,000; teachers’ salaries, plus the cost of modular buildings. The figure for personnel and textbooks came to about $60,000.
Senator Patrick also stated that the key was in finding long-term commitment for funding, while Warden Cain believes that it would not be a problem to find the funding.
Both Senators Whitmire and Patrick stated that they would be willing to go to the Southern Baptist Convention to speak of this vision for the college.
Closing out this segment of the meeting, Dr. Blaising reiterated the funding costs: startup costs, ongoing costs, library, computer lab, buildings, and director’s salary.
3. The next topic on the Agenda was to answer How often do we as key players meet to further discuss the vision of a 4-year college in Texas prisons?
Grove stated that we have 12 months until the “ribbon cutting.”
Those from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary said that meeting every three months would be best for them.
Representatives from TDCJ assured that they would continue to work together “offline.”
Monday, November 8 was set as the next meeting. 8 am at Taste of Texas.
Drs Blaising and Autrey would remain in process of developing the curriculum. There would be a 2-part curriculum–an Associates degree and a Baccalaureate degree.
Grove spoke of the importance of the accreditation process as a way to protect the program.
4. Next on the Agenda was to state what was to be accomplish between now and the November 8 meeting.
–Southern Baptists of Texas Convention would tackle the Budget.
–Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary would handle the curriculum, the faculty, and the accreditation process. The plan to give an accreditation update at the next meeting. (Warden Cain posed the question as to whether accreditation could be in place before there was a building or a library. He said he thought there needed to be 6 months of accreditation in place before classes begin.)
–Texas Department of Criminal Justice will have a decision made on the college director. The will also have the location and space firmed up.
–It was agreed that all key players would like to make a trip to Angola. Warn Cain stated that any weekday in October would work. Grove will follow up on those trips and see that they happen.
Senator Whitmire asked Warden Cain “What was the #1 obstacle you were met with when establishing this college in Angola.” Warden Cain’s response was that “the officers and staff buying into it,” was the biggest problem. They had to be convinced that the students had to be at class on time, that they had to be allowed to be “students.” They had to be shown that this was not to be treated as a “ministry”, but rather that this was a TDCJ Program and needed their highest respect and buy-in.
Cain further stated that a culture change was started in Angola, and the inmate students had to be protected. But the students were put in the general population of the prison and Bible studies started almost immediately. At Angola, they wanted long-termers, not short-termers. After graduation, they sent the students to other prisons in teams of two. But they didn’t want to make the inmate students so “special” that they couldn’t be normal in the prison population.
He added that you have to let the prison staff pick the students via a selection committee. They will weed out the behavior problems. The warden should have the power of veto over any inmate being selected.
He stated that the college would lose about 15% of the students over the course of the college. Some would break the rules and be forced out. “It’s all about security and discipline.”
Dr Autrey added that an inmate could not be written up for an infraction for 9 months if they wished to attend the college.
Between January and May, the selection process will be set up and inmates will be selected for the college.
Senator Patrick stated that “this is a unique opportunity for Texas inmates.”
Senator Whitmire added that, “We will be training them to be ministers in the system.”
The selection process will look for the best long-termers.
Senator Patrick– “We want leaders in the inmate community.”
Bryan Collier of TDCJ said that they could work out a profile of perfect inmates for the program. And they could also transfer prisoners from other prisons in Texas, in need be.
Grove added, “We want them to want to come.”
Warden Cain said they allowed no more than 24% sex offenders in the college. There were only 4-5% Muslims. To date, about 25 Muslims have graduated from the Seminary at Angola. They even go out as missionaries to other prisons in Louisiana.
Chaplains, he said, had the biggest resistance to the program, because they thought they were going to be replaced.
Grove mentioned that Texas needed at least 3 Seminaries; a second up in east Texas, perhaps Coffield; and a Women’s Seminary in Gatesville, perhaps Murray Penitentiary, in the near future. “But we’ll take it one campus at a time,” he said, “and pray for funding as we go.”
Warden Cain also stated that Louisiana was starting a Bible College in a women’s prison.
August 2011–start 1st class
Meeting was adjourned, and lunch was served.
The official name for the college was also decided. Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary–Darrington Extension Campus
TEXAS INMATES BIBLE COLLEGE (now formerly known as Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary–Darrington Campus)
The meeting was adjourned after a wonderful lunch, served with the compliments of the Taste of Texas Restaurant, Edd and Nina Hendee, Owners.
Historian, The Heart of Texas Foundation