Graduate students in the Department of Philosophy at Western Michigan University are developing a Prison Education Outreach Project, through which graduate students provide content modeled after traditional college courses to incarcerated individuals. The project’s mission is to educate, challenge, and inspire these individuals to achieve their academic, personal and professional goals. Additionally, graduate student mentors are offered an excellent opportunity to develop pedagogical skills by mentoring a diverse population in a non-traditional classroom setting.
A 2013 study by Davis et al. found that incarcerated individuals who participate in prison education programs are 43 percent less likely to recidivate than those who do not, which increases public safety. According to the Vera Institute of Justice, moreover, every dollar invested in prisoner education yields $4 to $5 of taxpayer savings due to reduced incarceration costs.