Wesleyan Center for Prison Education: Student-run mission at Cheshire

Wesleyan Center for Prison Education has been on an incredible mission of expanding the knowledge base of incarcerated persons. 

This has been realized by availing of university academics to students in prison. Wesleyan Center for Prison Education has been able to accomplish its set goal through the help of university students, staff, and faculty. 

For instance, professors, program coordinators, on-campus volunteers, and tutors, among others, have been instrumental in ensuring that prison students are educated. 

Wesleyan Center for Prison Education began in 2004

In 2004, Wesleyan Center for Prison Education started as a student-run program, whereby university students volunteered to offer tutoring and workshops at Cheshire Correctional Institute, a maximum-security men’s prison.

This initiative was pivotal in formalizing Wesleyan Center for Prison Education in 2009. This happened after the Bard Prison Initiative gave it a seed grant. 

As a result, incredible progress has been witnessed in the program because more classes are being offered. 

Wesleyan University has also been an outstanding pillar in this initiative. For instance, through a collaboration made with Middlesex Community College, prison students are able to undertake an associate degree. 

Applicants are subjected to six (6) application cycles so that they can be admitted to the program. This approach is necessitated so that they can show their preparedness and grasp of college material. 

Requirements at Wesleyan Center for Prison Education

According to Allie Cislo, the director at Wesleyan Center for Prison Education, students ought to hold a GED or high school diploma to be considered. 

Additionally, applicants have to adhere to stipulations by the Department of Corrections. For instance, for at least a year, they should not have had any form of disciplinary infractions. 

Upon admission, new students usually join other classmates in their pursuit of higher education. Nevertheless, the incarcerated students typically face unique challenges as compared to those on main campuses. For  example, they compose their essays in old-fashioned styles using pen and paper. 

This, however, does not deter their objective of expanding their knowledge base. 

Educating incarcerated persons has been boosted by various institutions of higher learning. For instance, Yale University, since 2018, has been running the Yale Prison Education Initiative (YPEI), in which they aim to educate the incarcerated people or the ones who are completing their sentences in the US federal prison.

Furthermore, Princeton University’s “Prison Teaching Initiative (PTI)” recently received a grant by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to promote STEM (Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) careers for people who are behind bars.