Prison Education After the Degree

Preparing for our first college graduation in 2020, we realized about one-quarter of our students are serving life sentences. For these men, college courses had awakened a curiosity and they expressed a strong desire to continue their education beyond a degree. So we began to build-out novel opportunities to deepen engagements with the humanities for those serving life sentences. In workshops we hosted for prison educators from across the nation, we also realized how substantial this population might be—in American prisons, roughly one in seven inmates are serving life sentences. And yet nearly every prison education program is organized almost entirely around the granting of degrees, a worthy achievement that nonetheless all too often also marks the end of educational opportunities for American prisoners. Encouraged that we were on to something that might serve as a national model for rethinking the humanities in prisons, we began to build out our course offerings, library holdings, assessment metrics, and facility resources to better support the men in our program serving life sentences.

It is a home, a place to be intellectual in a world that does not place much value on such things.
An environment conducive to discussion and writing without fear of being ridiculed. A place to
grow beyond the limited mentality that prison breeds, encourages, and expresses verbally and
physically every day." – PEI student, 2022


October 21-22, 2022 | Continuing Education in Prisons, part II

October 1-2, 2021 | Continuing Education in Prisons