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In the News: College Is Back In Session In Some Washington Prisons
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This recent article published in The Seattle Times provides an overview of the newly reinstituted support for college courses in Washington State prisons. Behind Bars, College Is Back In Session In Some Washington Prisons describes the opportunity for inmates, offers views from the professors, and discusses current research on the impact on recidivism and reducing costs of re-incarceration.College Courses in Prison

From the article:

  • Inmates who take college classes say that wrestling with big ideas stretches their intellectual muscles and relieves the monotony of prison life.
  • The professors say they don’t dumb down the coursework for their prison classes. For most inmates, that’s meant having to step up their writing skills and take remedial math.
  • Some courses are offered through the privately funded Freedom Education Project of Puget Sound (FEPPS). Twelve professors from UPS, the University of Washington, Seattle Pacific University, Tacoma Community College and Harvard Extension School receive a stipend of $1,200 per semester to pay for transportation to and from the prison.
  • In the past two years, 250 women have taken courses through FEPPS. Currently, 37 women are working toward a college degree. The program is so popular that it has a waiting list of about 50.
  • A 2013 RAND Corp. study concluded that prisoners who participated in education programs were 43 percent less likely to return to prison within three years of release, and also found that every dollar spent on inmate education translated to $4 to $5 saved on re-incarceration. However, this study was not specific to higher education.
  • A five-year study is now underway focused on college courses. The Pathways from Prison to Postsecondary Education Project, led by the nonprofit Vera Institute of Justice, is studying whether a college education in prison is a good investment.

Read the full article

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Posted Tue, Jan 27 2015 9:03 AM by Susan Powell

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