How Philadelphia's Prisons Are Embracing Technology

By Aimee Rawlins /  Image courtesy Tablets and text messages. To the general public, they might seem standard, but for a prison system, they could be revolutionary. At least that’s what Philadelphia hopes. The city recently signed contracts with two startups to help educate inmates while in prison and keep them connected once

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College Studies from Prison: How I Draft My College Papers Using The Federal Bureau of Prisons' TRULINCS Computers

By Christopher Zoukis  Image courtesy

Federal prisoners do not have access to word processors.  Instead, we have access to typewriters and Trust Fund Limited Inmate Communication System (TRULINCS) computers which allow us to draft electronic messages — like emails, but not exactly the same — which we can send to approved contacts.  Since word processors are so handy when drafting and revising text, I often utilize the TRULINCS electronic messaging system as the next best thing to write my school papers.  By adhering to the six following steps, I can use the TRULINCS electronic messaging system to draft quality school papers.

Step one is to merely draft an electronic message containing the school paper.  I do so by logging into a TRULINCS computer in my housing unit, selecting the “Public Messaging” option, and selecting the “Draft” icon.  This allows me to draft an electronic message.  Once in the new message file, I can draft as I see fit, though this is done within the system parameters.  Two such parameters concern length of the message and time spent within the electronic messaging folio.  Messages are allowed to be a maximum of 13,000 characters and prisoners are only allowed to spend 30 minutes at a time in the public messaging folio.  As such, if I want to write a longer article or essay, I have to use multiple electronic message files.  Also, if I draft for longer periods of time, I have to log on to work, log off for the requisite 30 minute period, and log back on.  It can be expensive: using the service costs five cents a minute.

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How A New York Program is Reframing Prison Education

By Courtney Subramanian /  Image courtesy

About two hours miles north of Manhattan, a group of young men meet weekly to debate philosophy and discuss composition. The curriculum is like any other liberal arts course, but the classroom is quite different from what most people experience.

These classes take place behind the confines of the Otisville Correctional Facility, a medium-security prison in New York where many of its inmates are serving life sentences.

Otisville was the first to implement the Prison to College Pipeline (P2CP), a partnership between the City University of New York (CUNY) and the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS). Led by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and Hostos Community College, the initiative selects inmates who have high school diplomas or GEDs and are eligible for release within five years to enroll as students through a process that includes assessment tests, submitting essays, and sitting down for an interview — much like the traditional college application process.

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North Carolina Community Colleges PEP

By Christopher Zoukis courtesy

Name: Prison Education Program of the North Carolina Community Colleges

Associated Educational Institution: 49 of 58 North Carolina Community Colleges

Associated Prison: 80 Different Educational Facilities


Mailing Address:

No Central Mailing Address. Contact North Carolina Department of Corrections at:

North Carolina Department of Correction

Division of Prisons

831 West Morgan Street 4260 MSC

Raleigh, North Carolina 27699-4260

Phone Number: (919) 838-4010

Fax Number: (919) 733-8272

Email Address: [email protected]

Point of Contact: Tracy McPherson

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Correctional Education Remains a Big Challenge

By Rebecca Gray 

The United States has become, to borrow an apt title from a 2013 Bill Moyers special, Incarceration Nation. ( While Moyers’ program focused on the disproportionate number of racial and ethnic minorities behind bars (minorities comprise more than 60 percent of the prison population), the problem transcends racial issues. The prison population in the U.S. grew from 300,000 in the 1970s to over two million today, and the U.S. has a higher rate of incarceration than any other nation. We spend billions of dollars every year to keep people behind bars.

The U.S. prison system has been widely and justly criticized for its failure to rehabilitate and the high rate of recidivism. Nationwide, 40 percent of released prisoners are back in the system within three years of their release. ( (For more links to information on national recidivism rates, see this page on the National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS) site:

Though there are conflicting opinions about the best ways to prevent recidivism, there’s good evidence that education and training programs within the prisons play a significant role in helping participants stay out of trouble once they are released. Like everything else, however, education requires funding, which isn’t always forthcoming. And that’s just one of the big challenges facing correctional education today.

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Literacy Fact Sheet: Correctional Education

From the Oklahoma Department of Libraries 

Inmates have among the lowest academic skills and literacy rates of any segment of society. Upon completing their sentence, most inmates re-enter society no more skilled than when they entered the correctional facility.—Correction Education Data Guidebook, U.S. Department of Education


  • The United States has the highest documented incarceration rate in the world. At yearend 2010, the total number of offenders under the supervision of the adult correction authorities represented about 3% of adults in the U.S. resident population, or 1 in every 33 adults. Some 2,266,800 adults were incarcerated in prisons or jails, while another 4,887,900 were under community supervision as part of the parole and probation systems. America locks up more of its citizens than Iceland, Japan, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Ireland, Germany and Italy combined.
  • In 2008, one of every 48 working-age men was in prison or jail.—The High Budgetary Cost of Incarceration
  • In 2008, federal, state, and local governments spend nearly $75 billion on corrections, with the large majority spent on incarceration.—The High Budgetary Cost of Incarceration
  • If the male high school graduation rate were increased by just 5%, annual crime-related savings to the nation would be approximately $5 billion dollars. The benefits would vary from state to state: South Dakota (at the low end) would save $1.6 million, Oklahoma (near the middle) would save $63 million, and California (at the high end) would save almost $675 million.—Saving Futures, Saving Dollars
  • Nationwide, three-quarters of state prison inmates are drop-outs, as are 59% of federal inmates. In fact, drop-outs are 3.5 times more likely than high school graduates to be incarcerated in their lifetime. African Americans are disproportionately incarcerated. Of all African American male drop-outs in their early 30’s, 52% have been imprisoned. 90% of the 11,000 youth in adult detention facilities have less than a 9th grade education.—Every Nine  Seconds in America a Student Becomes a Dropout
  • Both male and female prison inmates had lower average scores on all three literacy scales (prose, document, and quantitative) than adults of the same gender living in households. 56% of prisoners had Below Basic or Basic prose literacy skills.—The 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL)
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Our View: Prisoner Education a Step Toward Better Life

By The Jackson Sun 

People go to prison for reasons too many to mention. But what we know is that, except for the most dangerous violent criminals, the vast majority of prisoners someday will get out and return to their home communities. What happens to them next can mean the difference between lifelong problems and becoming productive citizens. A small program at Lipscomb University in Nashville is a good model that can offer hope and opportunity to prisoners who are serious about turning their lives around.  Image courtesy

On Dec. 13, Lipscomb will graduate nine inmates with post-secondary associate’s degrees. Eight will come from the Tennessee Prison for Women, and one from another penal institution. These women have spent their time behind bars working to improve their lives through education. Lipscomb began this program eight years ago. It provides professors who go to the prison each week to conduct college classes. Lipscomb also has regular students join in classes held at the prison. This helps offer inmates a valuable non-prison point of view of life, along with a more real-world mix of people they someday will meet in the workplace.

In its essence, prison is punishment for breaking the law. It is not a pleasant environment, and those who have been there will attest that there are no “country club” prisons. But that doesn’t have to mean that some inmates can begin to improve their lives, even while serving their sentences.

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A Second Chance Through Princeton’s Prison Teaching Initiative

Image courtesy vimeo.comBy Emily Aronson, Office of Communications

Two years ago, Reginald Murph was in prison for the second time. Today, he is a sophomore at Rutgers University. He credits Princeton University’s Prison Teaching Initiative with helping give him a second chance.

The Prison Teaching Initiative (PTI) offers credit-earning college courses to inmates at three New Jersey correctional facilities. More than 70 Princeton faculty, staff, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students and alumni volunteer to teach classes in English, mathematics, science and other subjects spanning the liberal arts.

Since the program began eight years ago, nearly 500 inmates have earned college credits by taking PTI classes. Credits may be transferred to any community college in New Jersey as well as a handful of public colleges and universities in the state.

“The Princeton classes made me feel like a student. And feeling like a student in prison was a really good feeling,” said Murph, who is studying social work at Rutgers-New Brunswick. “To sit at my desk and really focus on writing an essay. To step outside of myself for an hour and feel like a somewhat normal person.

“I was doing something in prison. I didn’t lose my hope. A lot of people in prison can go backwards, or stay the same. Or you can propel forward,” Murph continued. “Education is necessary to propel forward.”

PTI’s mission is to reduce incarceration and recidivism rates in the state, especially among poor and minority communities, by providing inmates with the education and skills they need to lead productive, intellectually engaged lives while in prison and when they get out.

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Prison Education Program Proposed in N. H.

CONCORD (AP) — Young adult prisoners in New Hampshire would get a chance to shave 13 months off their sentences under a bill heading back to the state Legislature.  Image courtesy Lawmakers narrowly defeated a bill two years ago that would allow inmates between 17 and 25 to earn time off their sentences for

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Inmate Education Branches Into Banking

By  Photo courtesy Barnstable County Correctional Facility In a effort to help make a better transition to life outside the bars, the Barnstable County Correctional Facility (BCCF) offers re-entry skills courses for inmates.  Among those classes is a financial literacy class taught by Patricia Walsh and Kathy Moorey of Cape Cod Five. “Having financially savvy

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