PLUS is part of the Indiana Department of Correction's "Roadmap to Re-Entry." It is a faith- and character-based initiative that focuses on teaching inmates lessons in compassion, generosity, honor, justice, self-control, tolerance, truthfulness, respect, integrity, accountability and responsibility.
PLUS was launched in 2005, with three facilities in the pilot program. Putnamville first offered the program to its offenders in 2007.
"We're entering a new chapter in the novel of our lives," PLUS graduate Sherman Lester, who is serving a 10-year sentence at Putnamville on an armed robbery charge out of Marion County, said during a graduation address. "Can we take it and get back what we have surrendered?"
Lester encouraged his fellow graduates to focus on being better fathers, husbands and men upon their releases.
"Think of this moment as a day of rebirth," he said.
The Rev. Dr. Stephen Hall, director of religious services at IDOC, was the keynote speaker at Putnamville's PLUS graduation ceremony.
"These people are serious about change," he said of the assembled graduates. "They hold one another accountable. It is this positive peer culture that makes a big difference."
The IDOC Web site describes PLUS as being "designed with the purpose of teaching core fundamental values that will challenge participants and focus on positive reinforcement through learned behavior to achieve a more successful re-entry."