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Collins & Lacy, P.C. shareholder Jon Ozmint will be the keynote speaker at Columbia International University’s (CIU) Prison Initiative Commencement on Friday, August 26, 2011. During his eight years as South Carolina Department of Corrections Director, Ozmint worked with CIU to establish and shape the program, after seeing the success of a similar program at Angola Prison in Louisiana.

With 95 percent of South Carolina inmates returning to the streets, Ozmint and Columbia International University recognized the need to equip incarcerated men with an accredited degree and faith development program; studies have shown that involvement in faith-based programs make prisons safer and reduce recidivism.

The 70-hour, two-year program, which results in an Associate of Arts degree upon completion, is privately funded and is available to inmates who meet and maintain high standards of personal conduct and can also meet the admission and academic requirements established by CIU.
“We are so pleased with the positive impact of the Prison Initiative, both for inmates’ individual lives and for South Carolina’s prison system as a whole,” said Ozmint. “The program benefits all South Carolina taxpayers by empowering inmates to live above their circumstances, as responsible and accountable citizens during and after incarceration.”

The 2011 Prison Initiative class, which included some male inmates who failed high school but later earned their GED, is graduating with a cumulative 3.77 grade point average on a 4.0 scale. The graduates will return to South Carolina’s 28 prisons, trained and equipped to have a positive influence on the culture and to work under the supervision of prison chaplains and operational staff.

“Jon’s insight into the realm of public policy and his ongoing commitment to programs like the Prison Initiative strengthen our firm’s mission to help the state of South Carolina, both in business and in the community,” said managing partner Gray Culbreath.

The commencement exercises will be on Friday, August 26, 2011 at 1:00 p.m. in the Visitation Center of Kirkland Correctional Institution, on the Broad River Road campus of South Carolina Department of Corrections.

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