The two men most responsible for helping The Heart of Texas begin the process of establishing the Southwestern Seminary at Darrington penitentiary are Lt. Governor Dan Patrick (R) and Senator John Whitmire (D) of Houston. When they accompanied The Heart of Texas to visit the Louisiana State Penitentiary in 2011, they saw the amazing change in the culture of the prison there, once known nationally as "America's Bloodiest Prison". The prison's violence rate among inmates had dropped over 70% since Warden Burl Cain assumed command. And Warden Cain credited his Seminary Bible College with the lion's share of the credit for helping to bring the violence rate down.
With the encouragement of these two men, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth came alongside to join in the effort. And The Southwestern Seminary at Darrington penitentiary was begun, using privately raised funds by The Heart of Texas Foundation. At the time of this press conference, the Southwestern Seminary at Darrington had been operational for four full academic years, and the press conference is held to talk about the forthcoming first graduation. On the left is Brad Livingston, Executive Director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice; then Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick in the background, then Senator John Whitmire at the podium, and on the right the Deputy Executive Director of TDCJ, Bryan Collier. All these men have assisted The Heart of Texas Foundation in helping it establish the Southwestern Seminary at Darrington penitentiary.
The mission was to replicate the single-most powerful thing that had helped cause the culture change at Angola: the idea of a Seminary inside the prison. Here are the two Texas leaders, talking about what has transpired, as our first Graduating class gets ready to be transported into 6 Texas prisons as small teams of men-- lifers, mostly-- to begin their ministry work with the Chaplains in those prisons. And every year we will graduate another class who will go out to another 6 Texas prisons.