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Victoria Scott

Financial Education

While surfing around for resource tools, I stumbled upon this fantastic website called Next Gen Personal Finance, an org site dedicated to providing information and edutainment to raise awareness about financial struggle, support financial wellness, and provide methods to build personal wealth.

Next Gen Personal Finance (ngpf.org)

These games were so interesting, exciting, and informative that I just had to share them. Although I do highly recommend the build your stax game, the purpose of this post is to share the game by Urban Ministries of Durham called SPENT: SPENT (playspent.org) and I'd like to challenge all who read this post, not only to play, but to recommend this digital choose your own adventure game to at least 1 person you know. SPENT is a decision-based game illustrating the difficulty of trying to survive through channels of unskilled labor in the U.S. and how lack of financial resources affects every aspect of our quality of life.

I hope you all enjoy this game as much as I did and continue to share to support causes to promote financial education programs that help us break cycles of socioeconomic oppression and poverty.

Ved Price

Second Chance Month Reflection | Executive Director, Ved Price | Alliance for Higher Education in Prison

Second Chance Month Reflection

Executive Director, Ved Price 

Alliance for Higher Education in Prison

April 2024

 

Reentry and Chances

Second Chance Month has noble aims, and in many ways has strived to address the collateral consequences that extend long beyond a person’s release from incarceration.

A primary goal of Second Chance Month is to raise awareness on the challenges that individuals face when reentering society after incarceration, and to provide interventions that will enhance the likelihood of successful reentry. Contemplating these challenges, the scarcity of opportunities to adequately prepare for reentry during incarceration comes to mind. The impact and aspirations of Second Chance Month are undermined when people are released from prison with pennies, after being forced to perform unpaid or slave-wage labor for years on end. 

Being released with a negligible amount of money doesn’t sound like a “second chance.” In fact, it doesn’t sound like a chance at all. If individuals were paid fair wages for their work during incarceration and were able to return to their community with that money, their reentry phase might feel more like a “chance”. As the Second Chance Month proclamation seeks to live up to its ideals or claims regarding reentry, I’d like to see people being released from prison with the financial and material resources necessary for a successful reentry.

 

Higher Education in Prison

With Pell Reinstatement, we expect an expansion of access to opportunities for incarcerated individuals to obtain a college level education. Yet they will not use that education to further their professional goals until their release. This means we have highly educated and able individuals, with an education funded by the federal government, who are not allowed to fully contribute to the workforce and then are being released with no money… These people are then expected to feel like they have a “chance.”

 

A Solution

Now that COVID has basically standardized remote work, we must reassess the feasibility of remote employment and careers for people who are incarcerated. In many respects, this could provide people with a genuine chance upon release, given that nationally there’s about a 70% “chance” that person will be rearrested within 5 years of their release (Alper et al., 2018).

We know that employing someone who is currently incarcerated is possible and that these employees can provide immense value. The Alliance for Higher Education in Prison, Jobs for the Future, and Unlocked Labs have benefited from employing incarcerated people with competitive wages.

 

Children and Generational Considerations

I can’t think about Second Chance Month without also considering first chances. Children of incarcerated parents are significantly squeezed of even having a first chance. One of the most significant consequences that a child of an incarcerated parent faces is a diminished economic wellbeing (Travis, J., & Waul, M. 2017). Children should not have to suffer the strain of their parent not being allowed to provide financial support to them. More disturbingly, children who have an incarcerated parent are six times more likely to become incarcerated themselves. 

 

A Solution

Enabling incarcerated parents to work and provide financial support to their children could help alleviate the cycle of generational incarceration and generational poverty. By addressing a root issue like this, which is directly related to the child’s first chance, we can move one step closer to NOT needing a Second Chance Month.

 

Final Thoughts

About 70 million people in the U.S. have a criminal record… that’s a little over  of the American population, which is 1 in every 3 people (National Conference of State Legislatures, 2023). At the rates that people are being arrested, in 20 years the U.S. could easily see 35 - 40% of its population with criminal record. If we are going to look at second chances, as a nation, we’ll need to make some serious criminal legal reforms to alleviate the collateral consequences of having a criminal record, because more and more people are becoming disenfranchised, by what seems like the millisecond.

Overall, Second Chance Month is focused more on triaging the harms caused by a flawed criminal legal system than it is with the interventions that would prevent one from going into the system in the first place. If we are going to have a Second Chance Month, I think a First Chance Month seems appropriate as well. For millions of people (especially those living in poverty), barriers to first chances are just as hard to overcome as the barriers associated with second chances. 

A society’s commitment to second chances, reveals much about its first. Second Chance Month is a reminder that we need to do better at making sure there's a first chance. 

 

References

Alper, M., Durose, M. R., & Markman, J. (2018). 2018 Update on Prisoner Recidivism: A 9-Year Follow-up Period (2005-2014). Bureau of Justice Statistics. https://bjs.ojp.gov/content/pub/pdf/18upr9yfup0514.pdf 

National Conference of State Legislatures. (2023). Criminal Records and Reentry Toolkit. https://www.ncsl.org/civil-and-criminal-justice/criminal-records-and-reentry-toolkit 

Travis, J., & Waul, M. (2017). The Hidden Consequences: The Impact of Incarceration on Dependent Children. National Institute of Justice. https://www.ojp.gov/pdffiles1/nij/250349.pdf 

 

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Challenges and Approaches to Teaching College-Level Introductory Computer Science in Prison

Hi everyone,

I am a PhD student in Computer Science at UC San Diego, and my research focus is improving computer science higher education in prisons. I recently published a research report at a computing education research conference (ACM SIGCSE), which I wanted to share here to get feedback from the HEP community and connect with others doing similar work. 

Here is the abstract:

Efforts to bring incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals into the field of computing stand to improve equitable access to both computing jobs, and consequently the benefits of our tools
and innovations through the inclusion of more diverse perspectives. This report describes the design and execution of a college level introductory computing course conducted with 26 students
currently incarcerated at a prison in the United States in Fall 2022. We discuss the ways that the prison environment and the student body differ from traditional college computing classes, and how this impacted the design and execution of the course. We found that despite significant environmental barriers to learning to program, such as not having access to a code interpreter, there were unique affordances of the student population, including maturity and community, that could be leveraged in the course design and policies. We conclude with many lessons learned for the purpose of improving future offerings of computing courses in prisons.

 

You can find more information about my work and my contact information on my website. Thanks!

Victoria Scott

State of Women's Incarceration Forum

State of Women's Incarceration Forum

Date: May 17, 2024

Time: 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

Location: University of Southern Maine (USM), Portland, Maine

More information and registration to follow.

Reentry Sisters, the National Council, Women Transcending, and the Opportunity Scholars, with the generous support of the Bingham Project at USM, offer a forum by justice-impacted women to strategize; share resources; and create action plans for legislative change, the use of clemency laws and early release, reentry services for women, and ending the incarceration of women and girls.

We invite activists, advocates, and allies to join us for an immersive and interdisciplinary approach that brings together leaders from across multiple states to end mass incarceration for women and girls.

Featured Speakers

CHARLOTTE WARREN

former Maine State Representative, former Mayor of Hallowell, Maine, and owner of C Warren Consulting

STACEY BORDEN

Executive Director, New Beginnings Reentry Services, Boston, MA

KRISTIE PUCKETT

Gender and Racial Justice Policy Expert, Senior Project Manager at Forward Justice, Raleigh, NC

JAYNA ASHAF

Field organizer, National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls

(Joined by Sashi James and Mallory Hanora)

 

Questions? Please email Skye Adams at skye.adams@maine.edu.

Please feel free to forward this to anyone who may be interested.

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Applications for PEP Convening Now Open!

Breaking Barriers: Bridging Worlds in Prison Education and Student Advising

From June 14 - 16, 2024 The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) is hosting a unique convening focused on policies, techniques, and practices for providing the full suite of advising services for students who are incarcerated. Prison Education Programs (PEPs) need to ensure they are operating in the "best interest of the students" per the regulations, in order to retain their right to administer financial aid. Equitable high-quality advising plays a major role in this. But questions exist about the types of advising, methods for doing this advising, and supporting materials to use while advising. This convening will blend national experts in the various advising disciplines and practitioners who are committed to implementing PEPs in a compliant and student-centered manner. There is an application process to attend this conference. There are no registration fees, and there is financial support to offset costs of attending. Each program selected will send a leader in financial aid and a leader in PEP administration. Below is a link to the convening announcement and to the application. The application should be completed by April 15, 2024. 

This work is generously funded by a grant from Ascendium Education Group. 

https://www.nasfaa.org/pep_event

Feel free to send any questions to pep@nasfaa.org!

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Ithaka S+R Report on Censorship and Self-Censorship in HEP Programs

Ithaka S+R has released a new report examining how the interstitial nature of higher education in prison programs, caught between correctional and college systems, puts increased pressure on educators and students on the inside. This, in turn, creates self-censorship concerns, surveillance issues, and raises questions about the equity of educational experience on the inside. 

 

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Applications for the Fellowship for Leaders in Higher Education in Prison are now open!

UPDATE: Please note new dates for session 3 below.

Rockwood Leadership Institute, in partnership with Ascendium, is excited to announce that applications for the new Fellowship for Leaders in Higher Education in Prison (HEP) are now open! Full tuition and accommodations will be covered by Rockwood and fellows will receive a $5,000 stipend for completing the fellowship, along with $4,000 in training-related expense reimbursements.

Apply for the 2024 Fellowship for Leaders in Higher Education in Prison now! Read more about how to apply and what to expect in the application.

This brand new exclusive Fellowship, designed by Rockwood staff, trainers, and system-impacted consultants, is designed to strengthen and cohere a core group of formerly incarcerated leaders working in Higher Ed in Prison organizations. For all the details, including the Fellowship programming and timeline, purpose, goals, and more, see our Fellowship Fact Sheet.

Cohort Selection Criteria:

This Fellowship is for formerly incarcerated leaders in the Higher Ed in Prison field. Leaders currently working in non-profit HEP organizations, at Universities and colleges, in government agencies, foundations, state coalitions, etc. are all welcome to apply.

This training is limited to 24 participants who:

  • Are formerly incarcerated leaders or decision makers in the Higher Education in Prison field, preferably those with Higher Education programming experience while incarcerated;

  • Demonstrate personal/professional readiness to step out of their comfort zone and learn new leadership skills;

  • Contribute to creating a cohort that is diverse in terms of demographics (such as race, gender identity, and sexual orientation), geography, lived experiences, and organizational strategy;

  • Commit to full participation in the year-long fellowship, including three in-person retreats, completing any required pre-session work and post-session evaluations.

Fellowship Sessions:

  • Session 1: September 30 - October 4, 2024 | Location TBA

  • Session 2: December 9-13, 2024 | Island Palms, San Diego, CA

  • NEW DATE! Session 3: April 28-May 2, 2025 | Location TBA

Fellows must be able to attend all three in-person sessions in order to participate.

Additional Program Offerings

  • Two virtual Community Calls will support participants’ relationship building and learning outside of the structured training session time. 

  • Two virtual Webinars will support participants in learning concrete skills.

  • Individual professional coaching. Each participant will have access to up to four free coaching sessions ​​with a Rockwood trainer during the program. 

Applications will close April 22 and select applicants will be invited to interview in May. Please share this new opportunity with any colleagues or friends that meet the cohort selection criteria.

Questions? Email Andrea at andrea@rockwoodleadership.org

Victoria Scott

Women's History Month & Gender Equity in Prison Education

 

Women’s History Month began as a congressional joint resolution in 1981 and a presidential proclamation from Jimmy Carter to declare a week of celebratory observance for “American women of every race, class, and ethnic background whose roles and contributions had been consistently overlooked and undervalued in the body of American History.”  

Between 1978 and 2007 incarceration rates for women rose by 560% compared with the 240% increase of men. Although the population of men has always been larger than the population of women in carceral spaces, the alarmingly overlooked fact about carceral trends is that the incarceration of women has steadily outpaced the growth rates of men’s incarceration. (https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/10.1146/annurev-criminol-030421-041559).

I first arrived at the Women’s Center of Maine Correctional Center (MCC) in 2018. As a woman serving an 11-year sentence, I began to inquire about post-secondary education programs almost immediately. During my intake classification, my caseworker even included my request to take college psychology classes as part of my case plan. However, months later, I learned that there were no matriculated or credit-bearing programs for the women of MCC. How could this be? The men had a college program; surely this must be a misunderstanding that could be cured with a simple conversation.

I met with the woman who was the unit manager of the Women’s Center at the time, hoping to receive permission to enroll in college, but the conversation was devastating. She told me that the Women’s Center didn’t have a degree program and that I would have to wait until I was transferred to the Southern Maine Women’s Reentry Center. The tears that welled up in my eyes made me feel childish. My cheeks burned when I asked her, “You want me to wait? What am I supposed to do for six years? Why can’t we start a program here for women like me?”

My story didn’t end there, and “no” will not be the final word for other incarcerated women who are denied access to education. My next steps carried me to advocacy meetings; I opened a dialogue with the unit’s mental health clinician so that she could document my struggle and help me cope until I found a solution; then, I put pen to paper and wrote to advocates, legislators, and central administration. I received a response from the Deputy Commissioner that pledged to establish post-secondary services for the women’s population with a promise to support my endeavor to pilot matriculation for women serving sentences exceeding four years. 

In 2019, I became the first woman in my facility to be enrolled in a degree program and in 2021, with the expansion of the university’s Prison Education Partnership and generous funding from the Mellon Foundation that was applied for with assistance from the Maine Prisoner Advocacy Coalition to create the first Liberal Arts associate cohort for women.

I may have walked out of that office feeling defeated and alone but I wasn’t alone. There were more women like me - and there still are, all across the world - who want to invest their time and energy toward self-actualization, perhaps for the first time in their lives.

Title IX was passed in 1972 to prohibit sex discrimination in all educational programs that receive federal support, but sadly, incarcerated women continue to struggle against inequality in prison education spaces to this day, but despite this fact, many prisons and jails fail to offer program parity to female and gender-nonconforming prisoners in comparison to their male counterparts. A 2018 report by the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition showed that men incarcerated in Texas had access to more than double the educational programming opportunities than were offered to women; this gender-based disparity in access to programs is a common phenomenon in prison systems. 

Alexa Garza, an accomplished scholar in a Texas women’s prison, worked hard to earn her degrees in a system that limited achievements for women, first obtaining two associates degrees before earning her baccalaureate. Similar to my experience, Alexa advocated for an equal chance to pursue success in an institution that already had long-established pathways for incarcerated men to earn advanced degrees. Today, Alexa is a justice fellow for the Education Trust and I am a fellow for the Alliance for Higher Education in Prison; we are but two examples of women who have successfully challenged gender-disparate access to education from behind prison walls, and if this is your story too, I invite you to share it with us.

Since I took my first steps in prison education, I have had the opportunity to take philosophy and web design courses with The Educational Justice Institute at MIT and have served as a teaching assistant with their programs for the last three years; I have been blessed to engage in a paid work-learning position as a fellow with the Alliance since last March, and have used my wages to pay taxes, support my family, and save for reentry; and at the conclusion of the Fall 2024 semester, I will be graduating from the University of Maine at Augusta with a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies. Never say never. Never give up.

Educational journeys are not isolated experiences and any student, especially those who are incarcerated and particularly women, cannot thrive without support and allyship. Women face unique barriers in prison education that limits their futures in professional spaces by depriving them of academic and vocational engagement, reinforcing gender stereotypes in programming, and failing to properly resource women’s facilities and units to be conducive to the achievement of marketable skills and credentials. In honor of Women’s History Month, let us dedicate our efforts to making the neglect of women’s educational needs a thing of the past.

 

 

Works Cited:

Heimer, K., Malone, S. E., & De Coster, S. (2023). Trends in women’s incarceration rates in US prisons and jails: A tale of inequalities. Annual Review of Criminology, 6(1), 85–106. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-criminol-030421-041559

Nittle, N., & Nittle, N. (2022, May 6). In Texas prisons, men have access to significantly more higher education programs than women. The 19th. https://19thnews.org/2022/05/texas-prison-higher-education-system-inequity/

 

The Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, & Linder, J. D. (2018). An Unsupported Population: The Treatment of Women in Texas’ Criminal Justice System. https://www.texascjc.org/. Retrieved March 27, 2024, from https://www.prisonpolicy.org/scans/tcjc/Womens_Report_Part_2.pdf

 

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March 27 Webinar on Financial Aid

On Wednesday, March 27 from 2:00 - 3:15pm ET, NASFAA (National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators) will host a free and publicly available webinar. See below for a description and links to register.

The Financials of Prison Education Programs


March 27, 2024, 2:00 PM ET | 75 Minutes
Price: Free
Prison Education Programs (PEP) and the institutions they are part of need to manage their financials, and there are a variety of ways they do this. The issues of affordability, cost management, and financial forecasting can be challenging. Defining the components of the Cost of Attendance (COA), including tuition, fees, and materials can be challenging. Programs need to balance legal jurisdictions, equity and fairness to students, and program sustainability. This needs to be done in the context of understanding the estimated financial aid anticipated to be available for each student. The panel on this webinar will include program leaders with experience in analyzing these questions.

The direct link for participants to register for The Financials of Prison Education Programs is :
https://event.on24.com/wcc/r/4519496/BB0A8AAE764D837E766429646803514D

Individuals may also register from the NASFAA website as well: 
https://www.nasfaa.org/prison_education_programs


This work is generously funded by a grant from Ascendium Education Group.

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Participants Needed

I am looking for participants to interview for my Master's Thesis project. 

Are you a formerly incarcerated person who identifies as a woman or femme? I would love to speak with you about your experience in prison/jail! If you know someone who may be interested, please share the flyer below with them. 

Each participant will receive a $50 digital gift card. 

Feel free to message with any questions or email me at mniness@udel.edu. Thank you for your help!

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Save the Date! Applications for a fellowship for formerly incarcerated leaders in HEP open April 1.

Rockwood Leadership Institute, in partnership with Ascendium, is proud to announce the 2024 Fellowship for Leaders in Higher Education in Prison for formerly incarcerated leaders!

This brand new, exclusive Fellowship, designed by Rockwood staff, trainers, and system-impacted consultants, is designed to strengthen and cohere a core group of formerly incarcerated leaders working in the HEP sector. The Fellowship will consist of three in-person weeklong sessions, individual professional coaching and peer coaching, and virtual Community Calls and webinars in between in-person sessions. For more information, see our Fellowship Fact Sheet.

Fellowship applications open April 1. All formerly incarcerated leaders or decision-makers currently working in HEP organizations, including nonprofit organizations, government agencies, Universities and colleges, foundations, etc., are welcome to apply. Applications will close April 22 and select applicants will be invited to interview in May. Please share this new opportunity with any colleagues or friends that meet the cohort selection criteria.

Full tuition, accommodations, and all meals during the residential retreats will be covered by Rockwood and fellows will receive a $5,000 stipend for completing the fellowship, along with $4,000 in training-related expense reimbursements.

Fellowship Sessions:

  • Session 1: September 30 - October 4, 2024 | Location TBA

  • Session 2: December 9-13, 2024 | Island Palms, San Diego, CA

  • Session 3: April 7-11, 2025 | Location TBA

Fellows must be able to attend all three in-person sessions in order to participate. Locations will be announced by the end of April 2024.

Questions? Email Andrea at andrea@rockwoodleadership.org

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Question about PEP in BOP Federal Facilities

Good morning all,

I hope this finds you well. I am reaching out to those who are offering educational programming (BA/AA/Certificate program) inside BOP facilities. I was part of the team that created the BA program inside Pelican Bay State Prison (Cal Poly Humboldt) and am now working with Cal State Long Beach Project Rebound on building an education program inside, so  I am somewhat familiar with the relationship between the university and state facilities (CDCR) but have questions about working with the federal system. I am working towards building a program in CA with BOP and interested in those who are currently working with them or have in the past. Looking forward to hearing from you and thank you!
 

Victoria Scott

Connecticut is Coming UP

Hey, Everybody!

I want to take this week's post as an opportunity to uplift my girl, Brittany LaMarr! Brittany is a formerly incarcerated prison education advocate, works with the National Prison Debate League (and was instrumental in making arrangements for the establishment and launch of the MCC Women's Debate team, along with NPDL Director Daniel Throop).

It has been my pleasure to have been a co-speaker with Brittany to discuss our support for the New England Board of Higher Education's Commission on the Future of Education in Prison's report recommendations to improve educational systems and access in prisons.

I've left links below for the plight in Connecticut and the NEBHI report, if you haven't seen it yet, check it out!

https://ctnewsjunkie.com/2024/02/23/formerly-incarcerated-advocates-call-for-expanded-support-for-prison-education-programs/

https://nebhe.org/commission-report/

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Job Opportunity! Wesleyan's Center for Prison Education

Join Team CPE! This Women's History Month, we're hiring our first-ever coordinator for full-time focus on our program at York CI -- where CPE has created rigorous college access for incarcerated women in CT for 10 years running. Looking forward to adding a passionate collaborator to this project and community.

Apply here: https://careers.wesleyan.edu/postings/10350 

Victoria Scott

How to Launch a PEP

Many universities, community colleges, certificate/technical and vocational programs, and non-accredited courses have already joined the growing HEP community and with the expansion of Pell, it is now more important than ever for educators hoping to make a foray into prison education spaces, to have resources and guidance to start their prison education partnership program.

If you've ever wondered, how does a HEP or a PEP get started? Never fear! The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators has constructed a resource page to help those who are looking to enter the HEP field with information, guidance, and assistance.

https://www.nasfaa.org/starting_pep

 

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Education in Action: Building a Bridge of Re-Entry

What does Education in Action look like in practice? Since its inception, the U.S. prison system has functioned to separate people from their families, communities, and the people they harmed. The system has also functioned to prevent people who have caused harm from engaging in any meaningful reparative action. It has functioned to restrict people's ability to care for their families, and to remove mentors, service members, and caretakers from their communities.  Education in Action (EiA) is an initiative by the  Alliance for Higher Education in Prison (the Alliance) that aims to mitigate some of these harms through professional work opportunities that capitalize on skills gained through higher education in prison. My recent co-facilitation of an interactive workshop with the  DC Peace Team is one such example. 

When I received my 50-year prison sentence, I gave up on hope of attaining any type of post-secondary education. Thankfully, I met a man who became a dear friend and mentor. He helped me realize that – despite my incarceration – I still had good to offer the world. I had also found myself in a facility where there was a prison education partnership between Maine State Prison and University of Maine at Augusta, funded entirely by Doris Buffett's  Sunshine Lady Foundation . After a rough first few years of bouncing in and out of segregation, I settled in enough to begin my higher education journey. Yet, even as I was developing professional skills and deeper critical thinking abilities during the six years of my undergraduate journey, I still had no conception of the possibility that I might be able to operate as a professional before the decades of my sentence had run their course.

When I later started my master's program at the  Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution , it felt out of the realm of possibility that I might be able to develop a professional identity like my fellow master’s colleagues. Never could I have dreamt that, a short three and a half years later, I would be leading an interactive skills development workshop with a restorative justice and peacebuilding organization for professionals. Yet that's exactly what happened on February 17th of this year.

As part of my graduate work, I participated in a restorative justice training offered by the DC Peace Team last summer. Like many of the virtual spaces I've had the pleasure of joining since starting my master’s education three years ago, I was not stigmatized, ostracized, or ridiculed for my incarceration. Instead, I was among people who understood that, because I caused serious harm in my community, I am uniquely positioned to understand pathways to interrupt cycles of harm and incarceration. I understand what conditions can lead people to engage in serious interpersonal harm. Moreover, because of the harm I have caused, I'm deeply passionate about co-creating spaces of healing, connection, and repair. Through this work, I am constantly learning how to better foster these kinds of environments and relationships.

Sometimes those of us who have caused the greatest harms in our community are also those most committed to preventing further harm from occurring. One avenue of being able to put this passion to work is the workshop I co-facilitated with Drs. Sal Sorbin and Lukas Carey, and Vance Contee, which was called “ Restorative Approaches to Re-Entry: Working with Returning Citizens .” Together, each of us with lived expertise of the criminal legal system, held space for outside community members who are actively working to support people in their reentry and reintegration after incarceration.

Everyone present—all 35 or so of us, inside and outside of prison walls—came together to envision and commit to how we can collectively interrupt cycles of harm and incarceration by welcoming people home in meaningfully supportive ways after incarceration. Engaging in meaningful work like this is Education in Action. This is me, almost 16 years after my initial incarceration at 18 years of age, having an opportunity to pay forward what I cannot pay back. This is what is possible when leaders in Departments of Corrections co-create avenues of professional development and workforce engagement from within the walls of secure facilities.

It is possible to imagine a more connected and healed world. It is possible to create avenues that help us get there. Education in Action is a substantive step towards building a bridge between higher education in prison and meaningful employment outside of prison. This bridge is one that is built across walls and unnecessary divides. This bridge is one between communities. It is one of healing.

If you would like to learn more about the Education in Action initiative, please visit the landing page  here . If you know of or represent an organization that might be interested in being an employer partner; if you know of or are a currently incarcerated student interested in engaging in meaningful employment; or, if you know of or represent a Department of Corrections who is interested in being part of creating a bridge of connection, please send them our way. 

We will only create a future worth living if we do it together. Thinking, dreaming, imagining, and creating – together.

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New Publications from the Field!

Check out two new books published this year from the field:

 

Unlocking Learning: International Perspectives on Education in Prison

Edited by Justin McDevitt and Mneesha Gellman

Countries around the world have disparate experiences with education in prison. For decades, the United States has been locked in a pattern of exceptionally high mass incarceration. Though education has proven to be an impactful intervention, its role and the level of support it receives vary widely. As a result, effective opportunities for incarcerated people to reroute their lives during and after incarceration remain diffuse and inefficient. This volume highlights unique contributions from the field of education in prison globally.

 

Higher Education and the Carceral State: Transforming Together

Edited by Annie Buckley

Higher Education and the Carceral State: Transforming Together explores the diversity of ways in which university faculty and students are intervening in the system of mass incarceration through the development of transformative arts and educational programs for students in correctional institutions.

Demonstrating the ways that higher education can intervene in and disrupt the deeply traumatic experience of incarceration and shift the embedded social-emotional cycles that lead to recidivism, this book is both inspiration and guide for those seeking to create and sustain programs as well as to educate students about the types of programs universities bring to prisons.

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Call for Manuscripts

📝 Call for Manuscripts: Exploring the Role of Higher Education in Prison and Returning People on Campuses and Communities from the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities.

📚 This call for complete, full manuscripts is open to all authors who are engaged in the scholarly exploration of programs, initiatives, and/or research centers that implement support for returning community members or facilitate higher education in prison and its impact on campuses and communities.

https://www.cumuonline.org/call-for-manuscripts-exploring-the-role-of-higher-education-in-prison-and-returning-citizens-on-campuses-and-communities/?mc_cid=4442d7dd43&mc_eid=430f27549f

Victoria Scott

Colby Justice Think Tank Criminal Code News

So proud of my Justice Think Tank colleagues Linda Small and Chandler Dugal for their op-ed piece that was published in The Bangor Daily News! Their cowritten article centers on the prong of our Criminal Code group's work that researched record sealing and expungement for formerly incarcerated people and proposed an implementation strategy for the State of Maine!

https://www.bangordailynews.com/2024/02/20/opinion/opinion-contributor/criminal-record-forgiveness-second-chance-joam40zk0w/

Victoria Scott

MIT: Writing the Code, Second Chance Hiring

MIT is holding an event to gather professors, students, policy makers, and members of the business community to discuss equitable hiring practices and the barriers that individuals from marginalized communities face in socioeconomic, professional arenas. This event is to discuss and improve public support for second chance hiring practices for formerly incarcerated individuals and will be featuring the story of Daniel Dart, MIT's first formerly incarcerated student at the Sloan School of Business. 

"MIT Sloan EMBA student, Daniel Dart, EMBA '24, is a leader in Second Chance Hiring and is justice-impacted. We plan to highlight his experience while amplifying the issues related to fair chance hiring and how that impacts our community of industry and academic professionals."

If you're in the Boston area (or even if you're not and want to take a field trip!) this event should be a milestone for the inclusion of formerly incarcerated people in efforts to expand equitable access to opportunity.

Writing the Code: Second Chance Hiring | MIT Sloan

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Grant Opportunity: Pathway Home

The U.S. Department of Labor will be granting $52 million to support projects that advance pre-release job training and apprenticeship programs for incarcerated individuals.

These Pathway Home grants will be awarded to projects that provide incarcerated individuals with legal assistance, counseling, job search strategies and other foundational skills prior to release. These grants – ranging from $1 million to $4 million to each recipient – demonstrate the value of initiatives like Education in Action that close the gaps between higher education in prison and employment opportunities.

Learn more about how to apply and share this reentry opportunity with your networks: https://www.dol.gov/newsroom/releases/eta/eta20240208-0

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Alliance for Higher Education in Prison x Colby College Justice Think Tank

In 2023, the Alliance for Higher Education in Prison supported the Colby College Justice Think Tank, which brought together 12 remarkable scholars from all five Maine prisons to explore restorative justice alternatives. Their research, aimed at reforming Maine's legal system for emerging adults, has culminated in impactful policy papers and public presentations. Dive into the minds of these brilliant scholars and explore the pathways they've proposed for a more restorative future. 

 

Check them out here: https://www.colby.edu/academics/departments-and-programs/colby-across-the-walls/justice-think-tank/

Victoria Scott

CUMU Call for Manuscripts

With a submission deadline of May 1, 2024, The Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities is soliciting manuscripts for their journal on the role of higher education in prison and returning citizens on campuses and communities. The purpose of this issue's theme is to gain insight into how higher education institutions address prison education, transition, and reentry for incarcerated students.

The topic suggestions for content are fairly broad, but all must include evidence-based theories or practice with supportive data.

Call for manuscripts: Exploring the Role of Higher Education in Prison and Returning Citizens on Campuses and Communities

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Colorado becomes one of the first to employ an incarcerated professor

A new initiative at Adams State — one of the first of its kind in the country — focuses on employing incarcerated people with graduate degrees as college professors, rather than bringing in instructors from the outside. The program offered through the Alamosa-based university gives incarcerated graduates experience and training while helping to alleviate the staff shortages that can hinder prison education programs. https://www.chalkbeat.org/colorado/2024/01/04/incarcerated-professor-teaches-college-classes-in-prison/ 

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SUNY Road Map to Starting a College-in-Prison (CIP) Program

If your State University of New York (SUNY) campus is interested in finding ways to serve justice-involved students in your community, the following
information may help you in planning and navigating critical conversations. We know everyone's path is different and some of these activities may occur simultaneously and/or on an ongoing basis.

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Access, Success, and Challenges in College-In-Prison Programs within The State University of New York

This report from the State University of New York (SUNY) Higher Education for the Justice-Involved (HEJI) program links administrative data collected by SUNY and the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) between 2010 and 2020 to reveal student engagement and outcomes in SUNY-involved college-in-prison programs.

This report is one part of a SUNY initiative to expand and improve its services to incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people in New York. With funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, SUNY System Administration is working with its campuses to build a supportive community of college-in-prison programs, develop resources to strengthen the programs, ease pathways for formerly incarcerated students to continue
their education, and create a data system that reveals key features of the programs and their performance. 

The research component of the initiative also includes interviews with college administrators, faculty, and formerly incarcerated students to understand how students view college-in-prison programs, the challenges colleges face in implementing their programs, including during the pandemic, and the ways SUNY can better support incarcerated and formerly incarcerated students. Although this report includes references to some interviews, forthcoming reports will offer a more complete summary of those findings.

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SUNY's Vision of Educational Equity for Incarcerated New Yorkers

This document outlines the State University of New York's (SUNY) commitment to educational equity for all incarcerated students in New York State correctional facilities.

"With the reinstatement of Pell and TAP funding, and in collaboration with the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) and other identifiable stakeholders, SUNY seeks to increase and expand incarcerated individuals access to quality post-secondary education, both during and after incarceration."

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How an illicit cell phone helped me take college courses from prison

This news article describes the experiences of an incarcerated student using an illicit cell phone to take college courses from prison. The person interviewed is incarcerated in the South and currently works as a hospice volunteer and mentors justice-involved young adults. No identifying information is included in order to protect him from potential consequences for possessing a contraband cell phone.

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Prison Education Faculty Recruitment Toolkit and Training Resource

This toolkit from the State University of New York (SUNY) Higher Education for the Justice-Involved (HEJI) program serves as a guide for administrators in recruiting and training staff for their prison education programs. 

The first goal of this document is to help guide programs through developing, hiring, and training practices that can support quality programming inside the correctional facility. The second goal is to generate a larger conversation about what programs consider to be best practices and how hiring, training, and supporting faculty contribute to the overall goals of building and maintaining quality college-in-prison programming. 

To that end, Part I of this toolkit is designed for program administrators who are developing or overseeing hiring for their college-in-prison program. It outlines the role of the professor in prison settings and identifies the qualities to look for in candidates applying to teach in prison. 

Part II, which was created for both faculty and program administrators, speaks to training for faculty once they’ve been hired and ongoing professional development. It offers a set of best practices for faculty who are considering teaching in prison.  These materials are created with the acknowledgment that programs need to develop their own unique processes and practices conducive to their campus settings and capacities, and thus there should be expected variation.

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Reuters: For the First Time, US Prisoners Graduate from Top University

This article from Reuters announces the graduation of the first class of incarcerated students from Northwestern University's Prison Education Program on November 15, 2023.

"Twenty years ago, some of these guys were in rival gangs, and here they are swapping poetry with each other and giving critical engagements on sociology assignments," said Professor Jennifer Lackey, the program's founding director. "The love and growth that we see in the community is really unlike anything I've experienced at the on-campus commencements."

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California incarcerated students depended on community colleges. What happens when their prisons close?

As California closes three more prisons and downsizes six others, some prisoners aren’t ready to go. They are worried about the future of their education. Newsom is closing and downsizing prisons across the state, putting the future of over a thousand incarcerated students at risk. College administrators say they have few resources to help.

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California incarcerated students depended on community colleges. What happens when their prisons close?

As California closes three more prisons and downsizes six others, some prisoners aren’t ready to go. They are worried about the future of their education. Newsom is closing and downsizing prisons across the state, putting the future of over a thousand incarcerated students at risk. College administrators say they have few resources to help.

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They saw the demise of college in prison. Thirty years later, it’s coming back.

As Pell Grant eligibility returns for people in prison on July 1, College Inside wanted to know what the moment was like when higher education went away almost 30 years ago. They asked four lifers to share their experiences with Pell Grants before 1994, when Congress eliminated access to federal financial aid for incarcerated students, in their own words.

Their stories have been edited for length and clarity.

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Job-hunting isn’t easy, especially after prison. San Quentin is trying to change that.

This news article examines how San Quentin's program, Prison to Employment Connection or P2EC, helps men learn how to put the work they've done inside into context for prospective employers. P2EC is a 14-week job-readiness training program for people who are within one year of a release date or have a scheduled parole board hearing in the next six months. The curriculum includes an assessment to help participants identify possible careers, workshops on identifying strengths and transferable skills, and résumé editing.