Think Justice Blog

Unlocking Potential

Perspectives on Education in Prison

The Unlocking Potential: Perspectives on Education in Prison blog series—as part of Vera’s College in Prison project—explores postsecondary education in prison and its benefits—during and after incarceration—through the unique experiences and insight of former students, educators, nonprofit leaders, corrections officials, reentry experts, and more.

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  • Monnero Guervil
    Monnero Guervil
  • Baz Dreisinger
    Baz Dreisinger
August 29, 2016

Series: Unlocking Potential

Increasing interest in and passion for learning throughout the prison system

Former intern Monnero Guervil interviews Baz Dreisinger for this blog post.  What inspired you to create John Jay College of Criminal Justice’s Prison-to-College Pipeline (P2CP) program? How does it differ, if at all, from other college in prison programs...

  • Monnero Guervil
    Monnero Guervil
  • Vivian  Nixon
    Vivian Nixon
July 07, 2016

Series: Unlocking Potential

The importance of education for incarcerated women

Former intern Monnero Guervil interviews Vivian Nixon for this blog post.  What is the story behind your passion for serving incarcerated women? My passion for serving incarcerated women started when I began to tutor and teach GED classes in pr...

  • Jeremy Travis
    Jeremy Travis
  • Monnero Guervil
    Monnero Guervil
May 31, 2016

Series: Unlocking Potential

Changing the way we think about prison and education

Former intern Monnero Guervil interviews Jeremy Travis for this blog post.  You have a long history of criminal justice related work experience, what originally sparked your interest in the field? My interest in the field was accidental because my fi...

  • Todd Clear
    Todd Clear
  • Rana  Campbell
    Rana Campbell
April 04, 2016

Series: Unlocking Potential

Producing active, informed, and engaged citizens through postsecondary education

What led you to your interests in education and mass incarceration? I started graduate school in September of 1971. In the third week of my coursework, the Attica rebellion occurred. This significant historical event was an uprising at a New York Correctional...

  • Danny Murillo
    Danny Murillo
December 30, 2015

Series: Unlocking Potential

Postsecondary education is critical for the formerly incarcerated

It’s early Tuesday morning and I am on a flight to the Detroit-Metro Airport. Due to weather conditions, the flight is being delayed. As the plane sits on the runway at Newark Liberty International Airport, I am second guessing my participation in this trip. I...

  • Rana  Campbell
    Rana Campbell
  • Michael Carey
    Michael Carey
December 04, 2015

Series: Unlocking Potential

Supporting students post-release

What are the key barriers that people returning home from prison who want to continue their education face? The main obstacle is access to accurate information on everything from accreditation to licensing barriers, as well as a lack of access to the type of ...

  • Rana  Campbell
    Rana Campbell
  • Gary  Lanigan
    Gary Lanigan
November 02, 2015

Series: Unlocking Potential

Prison education as a pathway for reentry

As a leader of a correctional department, how do you see postsecondary educational programs vis-a-vis the mission of corrections?  All of our programming, including education, is critical to prisoner reentry. Part of the mission of the Department of Correctio...

  • Rana  Campbell
    Rana Campbell
  • Doris  Buffett
    Doris Buffett
April 14, 2015

Series: Unlocking Potential

Viewing prison education as a smart investment

Why do you help fund college education programs in prison? I like to give people the impetus to change their own lives. I think of everything as an investment. What impact did attending a college graduation ceremony at Sing Sing Correctional Facility h...

  • Rana  Campbell
    Rana Campbell
  • Heather  Gay
    Heather Gay
January 14, 2015

Series: Unlocking Potential

Getting on the same page for prison education

What changes do you see in incarcerated students once they begin pursuing a college education? College education helps instill confidence in prisoners. I was raised in a way where my parents told me, “You are going to college.” Some of the folks that we deal w...

  • Rana  Campbell
    Rana Campbell
  • Todd  Butler
    Todd Butler
November 29, 2014

Series: Unlocking Potential

The challenges and rewards of teaching in prison

What strikes you the most about the college students in prison? I was wowed by the work ethic of these students. They have such unparalleled desire and a hunger to learn. The stakes that these folks are up against and what they are willing to give is incredibl...

  • Rana  Campbell
    Rana Campbell
  • Yariela  Kerr-Donovan
    Yariela Kerr-Donovan
November 19, 2014

Series: Unlocking Potential

Employers must understand their role in post-incarceration success

How does Johns Hopkins serve as an example to other employers who want to hire formerly incarcerated individuals?  What I really find honorable is that JHH/JHHS is committed to serving its community. An example is actively recruiting people within local neighb...

  • Rana  Campbell
    Rana Campbell
  • Stanley  Richards
    Stanley Richards
August 26, 2014

Series: Unlocking Potential

Using education to help others succeed

From your experience at the Fortune Society, how critical a role is education for people who are incarcerated?  It’s huge. As a prevention strategy, education is vital to keep people out of the system. Most of the folks that have dropped out have had really ba...

  • Rana  Campbell
    Rana Campbell
  • Jody Lewen
    Jody Lewen
August 18, 2014

Series: Unlocking Potential

Lessons from San Quentin

Beyond academic achievement, how do students benefit from taking college courses while in prison?  Even after taking just a few classes, their written and verbal communication skills are much stronger. They become more confident. Their self-esteem is strengthe...

  • Rana  Campbell
    Rana Campbell
  • Scott Budnick
    Scott Budnick
July 28, 2014

Series: Unlocking Potential

Using Media to Shift Perspectives

What led you from the film industry to criminal justice work?  A friend of mine asked me to come to juvenile hall to be a guest speaker in a creative writing class. I was so blown away with the kids I met and the stories I heard that I started teaching that cr...

  • Rana  Campbell
    Rana Campbell
  • Glenn E. Martin
July 02, 2014

Series: Unlocking Potential

Building leaders through education

Why is access to education for incarcerated individuals important to you? I had the opportunity to earn a quality two-year liberal arts degree while I was incarcerated and [after I was released] landed at the Legal Action Center, doing administrative work to ...

  • Rana  Campbell
    Rana Campbell
  • Walter  Fortson
    Walter Fortson
June 09, 2014

Series: Unlocking Potential

From Prison to Cambridge

What inspired you to pursue education while you were incarcerated? One day during lunch, I felt like the voice of God came over me and said, “Don’t eat your food right now. Put it away and go outside.” I put the food in the bin and I was the only person outsid...