16 Incarcerated People Made History by Earning Bachelor’s Degrees From A Top U.S. University
Northwestern University’s groundbreaking Prison Education Program allowed 16 incarcerated people from the Stateville Correctional Center to complete college coursework while in prison.
Northwestern University’s groundbreaking Prison Education Program allowed 16 incarcerated people from the Stateville Correctional Center to complete college coursework while in prison. The cohort graduated on November 15, marking the first time that incarcerated people earned bachelor’s degrees from a university ranked as one of the top 10 in the country by U.S. News and World Report.
The graduating class is one of four cohorts, each with 20 incarcerated students. The latest round of applications saw 400 incarcerated people apply, with only 70 scoring an interview.
Northwestern reported that incarcerated people who participate in prison education programs have a 43% reduction in recidivism rates. One study found that a ‘$1 million investment in incarceration will prevent about 350 crimes, while that same investment in [prison] education will prevent more than 600 crimes.’
Northwestern also reported that there are increased and improved employment opportunities for formerly incarcerated people who take part in prison education programs, and that their post-prison re-entries are significantly smoother.
Even those serving life sentences see benefits, with enrolled incarcerated people committing 75% fewer infractions at one Indiana prison. However, per the Alliance for Higher Education in Prison, there are only 406 higher education programs in U.S. prisons, despite there being nearly 2 million people behind bars.