“Building prisons without chapels was a mistake,” says Jon Ozmint, State Department of Corrections Director. Of the 28 prisons in South Carolina, only 16 have a chapel.
A maximum security prison for women in Greenwood held its groundbreaking Thursday. Josh Gelinas with South Carolina Department of Corrections says the new chapel will provide the space needed for an array of worship services and rehabilitative programs. “They’re having to meet where they can. Sometimes that’s in the dormitory, sometimes that’s in a visitation room. And those places can be noisy, distracting. And what you get with the chapel is a space dedicated to exploring faith. And inmates welcome it with open arms,” Gelinas says.
In 2006, the Department of Corrections worked with state legislators to appropriate money to build four new chapels. What’s being seen now is the fruit of these funds. Gelinas says that matching funds were needed volunteers helped generate the money: “What you have, are basically, non-profits, volunteers who came together. These are all folks mostly from the faith-based communities who had already been volunteering at the prisons and came together –the non-profits … and just basically started raising money But you also saw inmates who donated money, as well.”
Corrections Director Jon Ozmint said that “putting an inmate in prison without a chapel is akin to dropping them off in the wilderness without a map.”