Candler School of Theology at Emory University

Program Website: 

Contacts: Dr. Liz Bounds, Program Founder (, Cathy Zappa, Program Director (, Susan Bishop, Chaplain at Arrendale Prison

Program Description: CTS is designed to offer selected incarcerated students academic theological instruction that is ecumenical in scope and to train them to serve as lay religious leaders both in prison and after their release. The program’s other major goal is to provide unique teaching opportunities to seminary and doctoral students from the participating institutions as well as formative experience for congregational leadership for M.Div. students

Degrees Offered: Certificate in Theological Studies (1 year)

Programs Offered: 1 year program in academic theology (primarily Christian studies) with courses taught by professors, doctoral students and/or masters students. Requirements are 2 core courses in biblical and theological studies and 3 electives ; study hall and assistance with academic writing/reading and study skills are offered. Women who have completed the certificate may take electives offered in subsequent years.

Unique Features: The program offers incarcerated students a cooperative, empowering academic setting; an opportunity to engage theological questions; transformative dialogue; and an opportunity to cultivate ministerial, leadership, academic, and critical-thinking skills.

The program offers masters and doctoral students an opportunity to teach in a non-traditional context, gain insight into some of the ethical issues around incarceration, and to explore ways of bridging academic/critical and pastoral/devotional approaches to teaching and to studying scripture and theology.

Headquarters: Alto, GA (as of May, 2011; formerly at Metro State Prison, Atlanta, GA)

Correctional Facilities Served: Lee Arrendale State Prison

Population Served: Incarcerated women with high-school diploma or equivalent

Number of Students: From 2009 – 2011, CTS has admitted 50 students

Graduates to Date: 41 students received the Certificate

Year Founded: 2008

Founders: Dr. Elizabeth Bounds, Chaplain Susan Bishop

College/University/Organization Partnerships: Atlanta Theological Association: Candler School of Theology (Emory University), McAfee School of Theology (Mercer University), Interdenominational Theological Center, Columbia Theological Seminary. The program is based at Candler School of Theology (Emory University).

1. Faith and the City / Atlanta Theological Association
2. Donations from local congregations and student groups

  • National Directory of Prison Education Programs