Higher Education behind Bars

Endorsed by the OAH Committee on Teaching

Type: Roundtable Discussion

Tags: Crime and Violence; Education; Social Welfare and Public Health


The history of higher education in prison presents a paradox. Educational opportunities for the incarcerated expanded with the escalation of tough-on-crime rhetoric nationwide. It was only in 1994 that Congress dealt a severe blow to the sector, when it ended prisoners’ eligibility for Pell Grants first introduced in the 1965 Higher Education Act, to which most states responded by revoking state-level equivalents. On this roundtable, prison educators representing a number of initiatives, together with former students and recent graduates, discuss the state of higher education in prison today, opportunities gained and lost, and potential roads ahead.

Session Participants

Chair: Elizabeth Kai Hinton, Yale University

Panelist: Amy Jamgochian, Prison University Project

Panelist: Ashley Lucas, University of Michigan

Panelist: Jessica Neptune, Bard Prison Initiative