Northwestern Prison Education Program awarded with $1 million funding

The Northwestern Prison Education Program is awarded a one million dollar grant to help fund educational projects for prison inmates.

Prison Education Program

The Stateville Correctional Center in Illinois offers courses with college units for their inmates since 2018. The program is under the Northwestern Prison Education Program (NPEP), an initiative from the Northwestern University in partnership with Oakton Community College and the Illinois Department of Corrections.

The NPEP offers degree grants in the liberal arts curriculum, fine arts, social sciences, humanities, and STEM courses. Northwestern University sees the NPEP as a way of extending their academic mission into a dynamic and diversely disadvantaged community.

The grant to be used for the Prison Education Program will be provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for the next three years. Thee grant will allow the center to accommodate more students into the program. And also, the first Prison Education Program for women in Illinois will be launched.

Prison Education inspires inmates

A philosophy teacher at Northwestern University and currently the director of NPEP, Jennifer Lackey, shares her positive experience as a teacher at Stateville Correctional Center for the last six years:

Around 60 percent of inmates return to prison within the first three years of being released, but with the heelp of prison education, the  ratio goes by 43 percent.

Studies also showed that the higher the degree accomplished by an inmate, the less likely a re-arrest to happen. Having an associate degree has a re-arrest rate of 14 percent, bachelor’s degree holders are at 5.6 percent, while rare cases of master’s degree have a zero percent re-arrest rate.

Prison education also allows inmates to live better lives outside of prison. Being able to apply for better-earning jobs, that will generally cut off the cycle of poverty from being in prison.

Lackey hopes that this program will be widely adapted to different mass incarceration camps across America.