The Chapel

Hope on the way in...Help on the way out.

Our Purpose and Backstory


Tyger River
Chapel Foundation

A group of individuals that ministered at Tyger River Correctional started talking about the limitations they encountered at the prison due to having no place to meet, minister, or help the inmates. A few other non-profits were successful at building prison Chapels inside their correctional facilities at different locations. Our group met with the head of the SC Department of Corrections and prison officials and received tentative approval to build a chapel in the lower yard at TRCI.

In 2013, Tyger River Chapel Foundation was incorporated and was approved in 2014 for 501(c)3 tax-exempt status. A Steering Committee was formed in the summer of 2015 to move the project forward. The Board of Directors was seated in the summer of 2016 with a vision is to build a 5,000 square foot fully equipped chapel in the lower yard and repair the existing chapel in the upper yard at TRCI.

Location and Design

Tyger River
Correctional Institution

Tyger River Correctional began as two completely separate prisons: Dutchman Correctional (Upper Yard) and Cross Anchor Correctional (Lower Yard). Dutchman was completed in 1980, and Cross Anchor was completed in 1983. The Yards are completely separated by security fencing. No Chapel was provided for either the Dutchman or Cross Anchor institutions. In subsequent years, the two yards were consolidated and renamed Tyger River Correctional Institution, although the Yards continue to be completely separate.

During construction, a storage shed was built in the Upper Yard to facilitate construction. When construction was completed, the inmates requested the storage shed not be demolished and requested the Warden allow it to be used as a Chapel. The inmates in the Upper Yard worshiped in the shed until it was expanded in 1997 to add office space for the Chaplain and a larger worship area. This work was completed by the joint effort of volunteers and inmates. No Chapel has ever been constructed in the Lower Yard.

Because of financial constraints, chapel construction was not emphasized within the South Carolina Department of Corrections until Jon Ozmint was appointed Director of the Department of Corrections. Mr. Ozmint served as Director from 2002 until 2010. During his tenure, chapels were built at three prisons through private funding.

Recidivism Statistics

Statistics overwhelmingly prove that faith-based prison programs greatly reduce recidivism rates. A chapel dedicated to worship is a significant step toward equipping inmates in their faith while preparing them for an eventual return to society.

76.6%

National Recidivism Rate 1
(2010)

35.1%

South Carolina Recidivism Rate 2
(2010)

“…devotion to religion (among inmates) helps to minimize antisocial values, emphasizes accountability and responsibility, changes cognitive approaches to conflict and provides social support and social skills…”
– Darcella Sessomes DSW3
1 Bureau of Justice Statistics Report, 2 South Carolina Department of Corrections, 3 “From Violation to Revelation: Finding Faith in the Depths of Prison Hell”, 4 Office of Program Policy Analysis & Government Accountability, 5 Dan Denny Kairos Horizon Study