Wesleyan College in Prison Program

Wesleyan University has developed a program that will allow male prisoners in a Connecticut penitentiary to gain college credit.  The college-in-prison program is accredited, allowing faculty and students from the college to teach for-credit courses to inmates.  Wesleyan students are also running a program at a local women’s prison.  However, this program is not yet accredited, and consists of workshops rather than college classes.  The hope is that the accredited program will be expanded to the women’s prison in the future. Wesleyan faculty and students hope that this will provide an example to other schools to follow suit.

What a really great program! In Alabama, it is estimated that 1/2 of female prisoners do not have a GED, most averaging around a 10th grade education.  Though there are programs in place that allow inmates to receive their GED, there are no programs that allow any further scholarly education.  

Allowing inmates to take accredited college courses has the potential to really raise their level of efficacy.  Once these prisoners are released, they have the tools to do much more than they could have without further education.  It could also give a sense of empowerment, as they have the opportunity to study topics, readings, etc. that they would not have had access to otherwise.  

One of AWRN’s goals is to help women form reentry plans that will enable them to immerse themselves in the community, in hopes that they will not fall into the same habits that got them arrested in the first place.  Programs like these would definitely give inmates a great opportunity to get involved in the betterment of the community and themselves. 

To read this entire article, click here.


If you watch just one video on mental illness in U.S. prisons…

make it this one.


Please watch this excerpt of Trapped: Mental Illness in America’s Prisons. What a powerful and accurate documentary award-winning photographer Jenn Ackermann has given to us all. Please visit her site to find out more about the film and her other work at jennackermann.com.

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Sarah Kruzan: Sentenced to Life Without Parole at Age 16

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Girl Scout Troop Meets in Women’s Prison

This article is so wonderful! Twice a month, a girl scout troop whose members are all daughters of incarcerated women, meet in a women’s prison in Maryland. These meetings give the mothers a chance to connect with their daughters, giving them time to discuss everything from body image to boys to life with an incarcerated parent. It is so great that this program allows these women to be so openly active in their daughters’ lives. Can you imagine being away from your mother at such a crucial development period in your life?

To read this entire article, click here.

Acts of Art: The Prison Creative Arts Project (TRAILER)

Below is a video about the University of Michigan’s Prison Creative Arts Project.

Auburn University (in Alabama) runs the Alabama Prison Arts and Education Project. View student art work and find out more about the Project here.

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Utah: Female Incarceration Rates Decreasing

Utah has seen a recent drop in female inmate numbers due to several reentry preparation programs offered at prison.  Though the prison system lacks much federal spending for such programs, the community has proven to help fill the gaps by providing services to inmates.  Everything from becoming a Big Brother or Big Sister, to helping inmates create resumes or finding housing promotes the betterment of inmates and therefore their communities. 

65 to 75 percent of released prisoners return to prison at some point. But when they go through some form of programming, the figure plummets to about 30 percent. “We owe it to these women to make sure they have access to the resources necessary to reconstruct their lives.”

This is a great example of how you can get involved to help incarcerated women’s lives, as well as your community!  To read this entire article, click here

California’s Technical Violation Policy–Lessons for Alabama?

In an opinion piece published in yesterday’s NY Times, the point was made that, 

The heart of the problem is California’s poorly designed parole system. A vast majority of states use parole to supervise serious offenders who require close monitoring. California has historically put just about everyone on parole. According to a federally backed study released last year, more people are sent to prison in California by parole officers than by the courts, and nearly half of those people go back on technical violations like missed appointments and failed drug tests.

According to the 2009 Alabama Sentencing Commission report, in FY 2008,

1,546 probationers and parolees were revoked for technical violations, i.e., violating conditions of supervision other than commission of a new offense such as failure to report, failing drug tests, curfew violations, and late reporting.  The establishment of a Technical Violation Center for the next fiscal year is recommended…During FY 08, 347 parolees and 1,199 probationers were revoked…These persons have been returned to prison and can only be released via a parole consideration hearing by the Board or at expiration of sentence.  These numbers constitute a significant percentage of the new prison admissions each month and typically remain in the prison system for more than one year, at a cost of $15,136.55 per inmate. The [Technical Violation Center] facility would incorporate programs similar to those of the transition centers, but in a secure facility.  Success in the program would lead to reinstatement of probation and parole in a 60-90 period.