WESTVILLE | The Purposeful Living Units Serve (PLUS) program graduated 47 offenders at the Westville Correctional Facility. PLUS is a faith and character based program that stresses the principles of compassion, honesty, tolerance, responsibility and respect throughout its twelve month curriculum.
It was clear to offender Phillip Walker what this day meant to him. He spoke in clear and heartfelt language to the audience that had gathered on the floor and the bleachers beyond. “Today is the day that we graduates have hoped and worked hard to get.” He gave credit to his mentors and emphasized how the path had led to constructive elements in their lives. “The PLUS Program has given us the needed tools,” he said. He said the values learned can now be applied in their lives to make the right decisions here and when they return to their communities.
It was a good day for the 47 offenders who have mastered the key components of the program which include a strong positive peer culture and a curriculum that addresses the risk factors they encounter inside and outside the prison. Newly assigned Program Director Jessica Rain addressed the offenders who sat with their family and visitors close at hand in a graduation ceremony.
"I know it was no easy ride and I hope you feel the pride of accomplishment," Rain said. She felt fortunate to lead the group to not only a program conclusion but also a new beginning in life for both them and their families. She pointed out she had gained and learned much in her brief initiation on the PLUS unit and remembered asking offenders for patience at her first morning meeting with them on March 24. She could see and feel the results of a program geared towards teaching fundamental values and challenges that pushes offenders to the positive side with character and spiritual development.
Rain acknowledged others who contributed to the day’s success, including case workers, administrators and volunteers.
Officials emphasize the mentoring relationship that drives the program using positive role model volunteers from the community. For years PLUS, now at 16 different facilities through the state, has given many a chance to participate and graduate like the offenders at Westville.