To get up to speed on the current landscape of prison education, I’ve spent the last two months talking to researchers, professors, advocates, prison officials and currently and formerly incarcerated students. I’ve experienced the challenges of communicating with people in prison — I now have accounts with four different companies that provide secure email services to different state correctional departments and the federal Bureau of Prisons.
When my phone rings from an unknown number, I hope that it’s someone inside rather than a telemarketer. And I’ve received effusive, handwritten letters from incarcerated people who were excited to share both the challenges and opportunities of college inside.
In addition to following the conversations about Pell Grants, I’ll look into topics such as prison apprenticeships, the value of liberal arts education behind bars, the role of technology in prison education and what happens to education programs when facilities shut down.
I’ll also be focusing on how programs are delivered and who gets access to them, as well as the challenges that formerly incarcerated students face in navigating both higher education and the workforce. Additionally, I’m interested in college readiness and higher education opportunities for youth in the juvenile justice system.
College Inside will arrive in your inbox every two weeks, with both shorter news bites and longform investigative stories. You can also expect to see collaboration with my Open Campus colleagues Nick Fouriezos
, who covers rural education, and Naomi Harris
, who writes about race and equity in higher education, on stories where our coverage overlaps. (Don’t forget to sign up for their newsletters, Mile Markers
and The Intersection
I’m particularly excited about the opportunity to work with incarcerated writers, who will be reporting on programs in their facilities and sharing their own experiences with education inside.
Please connect if you have story ideas or just want to share your experience with prison education programs as a student or educator.
Right now, I’m especially interested in speaking with anyone who has had their education interrupted by a prison transfer or a facility being shut down, as well as learning more about the intersection of correctional industries and vocational training programs. You can always reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
or on Twitter at @szarlotka
To reach me via snail mail, you can write to:
Open Campus Media
2460 17th Avenue #1015
Santa Cruz, CA 95062