Dan Bewley, News On 6
HOMINY, Oklahoma -- An Oklahoma prison is helping prisoners change their lives. Dick Conner Correctional Center's Faith and Character program allows prisoners to learn more about their spiritual lives and how to become a good citizen.
Many graduated from the program on Thursday.
It was a graduation like many others, songs, families, and speeches, but what sets it apart was the grads were inmates.
"One summer night, at the age of sixteen, I consumed too much alcohol, picked up a firearm, ended two lives," James Campbell, an inmate, said. "Then I decided to grow up and quit playing games."
Fifty-one men at the Dick Conners Correctional Center in Hominy graduated Thursday from the prison's Faith and Character Community Program.
"If we can change the mindset of these guys while they're incarcerated we help them, we help their families, and we prevent future victims of crimes," Daniel Owens, an instructor, said.
The inmates volunteer for the 12 month program. It gives them two options, character for the non-religious or faith for the religious.
Michael Farrington is in prison for child abuse. Thursday he graduated from the program, learned he's going to be a grandfather, and had an emotional reunion with his family.
"Just to let them know what they've meant for me and what he's done for the lives of my boys in my absence," he said.
Farrington's mother says the Faith and Character Program has had a profound effect.
"They're subtle and just mind blowing some days," she said. "He's just grown in his faith and grown in knowing and changing his attitude."
One of its goals is to help the inmates let go of the past and embrace change. Thursday they showed off how far they've come.
In the spirit of moving on, the burdens are dropped, discarded, and a new life begins.
The prison has already received applications for the next program. Those prisoners will be interviewed to make sure they're sincere and qualify then the next class will begin in about three months.