Reforming Inmates

TIME IN prison should serve for more than just punishment. It should also serve as a rehabilitation process.

A new program at the Belmont Correctional Institute is laying a solid foundation to make certain the latter plays out.

BCI launched a Pre-Military program in December. It was designed as a 12-week challenge with the intent of preparing inmates to join a branch of military service. With any new venture, especially as unique as this one, it is never seamless in getting it fully operational.

But to the determination, vision and creativity of BCI officials and the commitment of some of the inmates, 10 individuals received diplomas last week at the program’s inaugural graduation ceremonies. Such a success story will undoubtedly spawn many additional such success stories.

Receiving commencement honors is no easy task.

The 10 prisoners who secured their diplomas earned them by mastering physical training, classroom work and drills. It was hardly a walk in the park, as the program had 14 participants at the outset. Moreover, the graduates often times were the victims of tough treatment from fellow inmates.

During those, the participants also learned the core values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal. All of those translate into a much brighter future following release from incarceration.

Not all inmates are eligible to enter the program, but rather must meet certain criteria. Their sentences must be two years or less and only those jailed on certain charges are eligible, thus meeting with military guidelines.

The graduates earned the right to select which branch of the military they wish to enter.

It is refreshing to see the BCI administration turning prison time in renaissance time.

The Pre-Military program has made a positive and possible lifelong change for the initial 10 graduates. BCI is already mapping an expanded format to the program, consequently countless others will have the opportunity for a new lease on life.