A Changed Man at Sanders Estes: “I mean, who goes to prison and comes out with a degree from baylor university?”

The Prison Entrepreneurship Program or PEP—and it’s having a tremendous impact on the men at MTC’s Sanders Estes Unit in Venus, Texas.

“This program will challenge you to be a better man, a better husband, a better father, a better person for the community,” says Christopher Stewart who graduated from the program.

He continues, “You get a degree from Baylor University. I mean, who goes to prison and comes out with a degree from Baylor University?”

As part of the program, participants develop business ideas and present them to real business owners and CEOs.

“You know,” Christopher adds, “we meet a lot of good executives along the way. And these are human beings who just want to help us become better people. They see that we’ve made mistakes in our past, but they see potential in our future.”

Christopher recently entered his business idea into a competition at the facility. His product hits close to home.

“This is a colostomy bag,” Christopher explains. “I have Crone’s disease, and I’ve been wearing one since the age of three.”

He developed a colostomy bag that’s easier to use and that’s customizable. He hopes it’ll help people who have to use these devices better adjust to this new way of life. The name of his company is Hands of Grace.

“I’ve come up with one of the solutions is a sleeve. And you can use anything that you want. You can use any of the many designs we have on the website or you can choose whatever you like.”

Christopher won third place in the facility’s competition, and when he’s released in 2019, he’s ready to take his idea to the marketplace.

The Prison Entrepreneurship Program has been transformational for Christopher. He got emotional as he recalled the day he graduated from the program.

“You know, when you’re at that graduation ceremony, it’s the most beautiful thing you can have in your entire life because when your family is there.”

Thanks to effective programs like PEP and caring staff, Christopher says he’s ready to be a new man.

“And I proved to my children’s mother that I can be the father and the husband that you need me to be. I will provide for these kids, and I will be able to take care of you. And my daughter Jolene and my son Michael, you know, and Christopher—they got to see their dad as a changed person. And reconciliation and redemption, that’s what PEP is meant to be, that’s what MTC does.”

During the recent graduation, Christopher was able to give his mother a rose. He says it was momentous moment he’ll never forget.

“When I got ready to give my rose to my mom, I saw the tears in her eyes. And it was beautiful because it was like I finally made my mom proud. It was like, mom, I’m finally going to be able to do something in my life. You don’t have to worry about me anymore. I truly believe this is my second chance in life. I tell God all the time with tears, don’t let me waste it, please. This is a blessing.”

About Sanders Estes Unit

Sanders Estes Unit is accredited by the American Correctional Association—achieving
over 99% compliance for both mandatory and non-mandatory standards in its most
recent audit. Other accreditations and certifications include the Correctional Education
Association and the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA).