- The Heart of Texas Foundation
- Scarborough College
- Texas Department of Criminal Justice
- The State of Texas Governor, Legislators, and Representatives
The Heart of Texas Foundation, founded in December 2009, exists completely independently from Scarborough College at SWBTS, the school that provides the Bachelor of Science in Biblical Studies to men and women who serve as Field Ministers. We existed before the school at Darrington began. We exist completely independently of TDCJ and work with the highest regard for them. We exist completely independently of any federal or state entity and receive no tax dollars of any kind. We operate with the highest regard for the law which provides accommodation and protection in order that we may exist to provide services to those within the state prison system. The Heart of Texas Foundation is: a.) overseen by a board of directors, b.) privately funded, c.) run daily by a Chief Executive Officer, and d.) produces regular third-party financial reviews and audits which are committed to the highest level of integrity.
The Heart of Texas Foundation actively provides, as a no-cost service provider to TDCJ, the entire Texas Field Ministers Program and its ongoing development, integrity, and funding.
The Scarborough College – Darrington Prison Extension held its first class in 2011. One class of 33-36 students has graduated every year in May since 2015. As of 2019, 169 men with long prison sentences have completed their full coursework while at the Darrington Unit and received the Bachelor of Science in Biblical Studies—a dually accredited degree from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) accrediting bodies. Southwestern maintains the highest standards of accreditation, is privately funded, overseen by a trustee board, and led daily by its appointed President and hired executive staff. SWBTS employs the director of the Scarborough College – Darrington Prison Extension and all faculty (full and adjunct) who teach the classes offered at Darrington—all completely funded by The Heart of Texas Foundation.
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS), founded in 1908, established Scarborough College in 2005 as its undergraduate degree-granting institution on its main campus in Fort Worth. Scarborough College serves as the degree-granting institution for the Bachelor of Science in Biblical Studies offered through the Texas Field Ministers Program. SWBTS’ main campus is located in Fort Worth but conferred this degree for the Texas Field Ministers Program for the first five graduations from its J. Dalton Havard School of Theological Studies located in Houston. After a restructuring of SWBTS’ accreditation, the Bachelor of Science in Biblical Studies confers now from Scarborough – The College at Southwestern. The undergraduate college is overseen by the SWBTS President and Board of Trustees. The school at the Darrington Unit is formally referred to as the Scarborough College – Darrington Prison Extension and is sometimes referred to as the “Bible College” by Darrington’s Correctional officers and staff and other TDCJ employees and volunteers. SWBTS has graduated more than 46,000 students in its 112-year history.
Texas Department of
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice has accepted the Texas Field Ministers Program as an agency program through its Rehabilitation Programs Division (RPD). TDCJ accommodates the focus of The Heart of Texas Foundation as a Christian organization, as well as, the religious component of the Bachelor of Science in Biblical Studies, for inmates who voluntarily apply and continue within the Texas Field Ministers Program. By allowing the Texas Field Ministers Program, TDCJ fulfills their lawful requirement to “accommodate and not merely tolerate” an inmate’s faith expression even in his education, whether his or her own faith is Christian or not. This accommodation allows an incarcerated man or woman to learn more about faith practices in general, by specifically studying the Christian faith included in the curriculum, whether or not his or her own faith expression, if any, is Christian.
TDCJ accepts the Texas Field Ministers Program as one of many programs in its utilization of numerous resources, sacred and secular, to address the educational needs of the long-term prison population, a population which is historically under-resourced in most states. The men and women of the prison population with the longest sentences often view pursuing the lowest education, a GED, as futile if their lives are to be spent in prison. TDCJ’s excellence in Corrections is reflected in its willingness to accept the Texas Field Ministers Program. This outstanding option for inmates with extremely long prison sentences—an unprecedented endeavor with many positive measurable results—includes an accredited Bachelor of Science in Biblical Studies with no online or correspondent component.1 Through the Texas Field Ministers Program, men and women with extremely long sentences have the opportunity to express the rehabilitation that has taken place in their lives starting in the very place where they live. Prison is the only place many men and women serving in the Texas Field Ministers Program will ever live. Can they live a rehabilitated life within the prison? Texas Field Ministers are showing us that rehabilitation goals achieved become rehabilitation goals far surpassed. Our desire at The Heart of Texas Foundation is that men and women in the Texas Field Ministers Program would live flourishing lives, even in the midst of difficult circumstances. Evidence exists daily that men serving as Field Ministers have met and far surpassed the rehabilitation goals of TDCJ. While this does not change the length of their sentence or their status as men who are incarcerated, it changes entirely their quality of life inside of the prison and their influence among the inmate population. For the first time since the program started in 2011, the first two men serving as Texas Field Ministers have the possibility of completing their prison sentences in 2020.
The State of Texas Governor, Legislators, and Representatives
The state officials in Texas who were involved earliest in the establishment of Texas Field Ministers are still serving in the same roles as or in higher capacities than they were when the idea for Texas Field Ministers began ten years ago. Senator Dan Patrick (Republican) became Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick. Texas State Senator John Whitmire (Democrat) holds the title of Dean of the Texas Senate as its longest standing member. Senator John Whitmire also serves as Chair of the Texas Senate Criminal Justice Committee. Each of them has attended every graduation and every fundraising banquet to lend his full support publicly to the Texas Field Ministers Program as a privately funded endeavor. And each of them shares and champions the work of The Heart of Texas Foundation and the Texas Field Ministers every appropriate opportunity he has.
- Jang, Sung Joon, et.al. “Prisoners Helping Prisoners Change: A Study of Inmate Field Ministers Within Texas Prisons.” International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology 64, no. 5 (April 2020). 470-497. doi:10.1177/0306624X19872966.