Supporting Criminal Justice-Involved Individuals

Initial Curators: Kelsie George, Campus Compact

Introduction

Addressing the needs of criminal justice-involved individuals both on and off of campus is crucial to advocating for diversity, equity, and inclusion within the realm of higher education. Programs and initiatives incorporating justice-involved individuals span a variety of departments and programs within higher education institutions, including student affairs, adult education, college access, service-learning, community engagement, admissions, financial aid and more. Reducing barriers to education by providing access to resources and opportunities to justice-involved individuals can reduce recidivism and ease the process of reentry.

Institutions of higher education going bold in this area are reimagining where higher learning can take place, with whom, and in what context. Resources and exemplars in this Hub are divided into three main topics: Higher Education in the Prison, College Admission and Access, and Service-Learning and Incarceration. Higher Education in the Prison includes resources and programs bringing higher learning experiences and corrective education to incarcerated individuals through faculty teaching courses and collective learning groups. College Admission and Access provides resources and exemplar programs addressing college access, preparation and admissions practices on higher education campuses for individuals after they have exited the justice system. Service-Learning and Incarceration provides resources on raising awareness both academically and socially through service-learning courses that engage with or take place in the prison/jail setting.

Key resources

A) GENERAL RESOURCES

  • National Inventory of the Collateral Consequences of Conviction
    The National Institute of Justice conducted a study of the collateral consequences of justice involvement in all U.S. jurisdictions. This resource can be used to, among other things, determine what professions a justice-involved individual might be barred from.
  • Reentry Mythbusters
    The Federal Interagency Reentry Council released a series of MythBusters, or fact sheets, clarifying existing federal policies that affect formerly incarcerated individuals in areas such as financial aid, public housing, employment, parental rights, Medicaid suspension/termination, voting rights and more.
  • Reentry Services Directory
    The Reentry Services Directory was developed by the National Reentry Resource Center (NRRC) to help individuals who have been incarcerated, and their families, find local reentry services. The NRRC has compiled a list of organizations and service providers that can address different reentry needs, including housing, employment, and family reunification.
  • Riggs, Robert. 2013. Higher Education and Incarceration in the United States: The Intersection of Institutions. New York, NY: Prisoner Reentry Institute, John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
    This white paper discusses the state of our knowledge about the intersection of higher education and criminal justice involvement.

B) HIGHER EDUCATION IN THE PRISON

  • Winterfield, Laura, et. al. 2009. The Effects of Postsecondary Correctional Education. Washington, D.C.: Urban Institute Justice Policy Center.
    Urban Institute researchers worked with the staff of four institutions in three states to conduct inmate focus groups and stakeholder interviews to explore the motivations for enrolling in PSE, the impact of PSE on offenders while incarcerated, and the expected benefits after release. A quantitative outcome evaluation was also conducted using data on PSE participants and nonparticipants drawn from three states.
  • Davis, Lois M., et. al. 2013. Evaluating the Effectiveness of Correctional Education: A Meta-Analysis of Programs That Provide Education to Incarcerated Adults. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation.
    This report presents the findings from our meta-analysis, which will inform policymakers, educators, and correctional education administrators interested in understanding the association between correctional education and reductions in recidivism and improvements in employment and other outcomes.

C) COLLEGE ACCESS AND ADMISSION

  • Greene, Andrew C. 2016. Checking the Box: Enduring the Stigma of Applying to Graduate School Post-Incarceration. New York, NY: Prisoner Reentry Institute, John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
    In this white paper, Greene poses questions to institutions of higher learning about the purpose, the target and the interpretation of the admissions application check box regarding criminal histories.  
  • U.S. Department of Education. 2016. Beyond the Box: Increasing Access to Higher Education for Justice-Involved Individuals. Washington, D.C.
    The U.S. Department of Education encourages college and university officials to look beyond the box by removing unnecessary barriers to higher education for justice-involved individuals, and demonstrate that a postsecondary education can help to offer students a second chance to change their lives.
  • Reentry Education Tool Kit, RTI International and the U.S. Department of Education
    This tool kit offers guidelines, tools, and resources to help education providers implement the Reentry Education Framework. The Framework promotes the development of an education continuum spanning facility- and community-based reentry education programs. It has five critical components—program infrastructure, strategic partnerships, education services, transition processes, and sustainability.
  • Crayton, Anna and Nicole Lindahl. 2015. Back to School: A Guide to Continuing Your Education after Prison. New York, NY: Prisoner Reentry Institute, John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
    This guide was prepared under the direction of the Office of Correctional Education of the United States Department of Education’s Office of Vocational and Adult Education by the Prisoner Reentry Institute at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
  • U.S. Department of Education, Office of Vocational and Adult Education. 2012. Take Charge of Your Future: Get the Education and Training You Need. Washington, D.C.
    The Department developed a guide for people who are incarcerated and for those on community supervision (probation and parole) to help them get started — or continue — on the path to further education and training.
  • Halkovic, Alexis, et. al. 2013. Higher Education and Reentry: The Gifts They Bring. New York, NY: Prisoner Reentry Institute, John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
    The Gifts They Bring explores the lived experiences of previously incarcerated students when they come to college. It documents what these students report as the factors that encouraged and supported them, and the factors that discouraged and, in some cases, blocked their transitions to college and their achievements there. Utilizing participatory research methods, this report highlights the voices of these students and draws on their knowledge to offer invaluable insight into the collateral consequences—economic, structural, racial, familial, and personal—of mass incarceration. The Gifts They Bring presents a compelling counter-story about the power of education, even for those whom many would discard.
  • National Reentry Resource Center. 2015. The Consideration of Criminal Records in Occupational Licensing. New York, NY.
    This fact sheet, produced by the Council of State Governments Justice Center’s National Reentry Resource Center in partnership with the National Employment Law Project, is designed to serve as an informational outline for policymakers and other stakeholders who want to learn more about obstacles that individuals with criminal records face when seeking employment due to state occupational licensing policies. The fact sheet also provides background on collateral consequences and a primer on the impact of policies to reduce barriers to licensing, as well as cost and implementation considerations.
  • Evans, Desheen. 2016. What Information Travels After Release?New York, NY: Prisoner Reentry Institute, John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
    This paper raises concerns about the presence of the criminal history question on job applications, its relation to the position the formally incarcerated person is applying for, and the extent to which the question itself may be a deterrent to apply.
  • The Fair Chance Higher Education Pledge, The White House
    By signing the Fair Chance Higher Education Pledge, these higher education institutions are demonstrating an ongoing commitment to take action to reduce barriers to a fair shot at a second chance, taking action in their local communities by supporting professors and students who want to teach or are teaching in correctional facilities and ensuring internships and job training are available to individuals with criminal records, and setting an example for their peers.

D) SERVICE-LEARNING AND INCARCERATION 

  • Davis, Simone W. and Barbara S. Roswell. 2013. Turning Teaching Inside Out: A Pedagogy of Transformation for Community-Based Education. New York, NY: Palgrave MacMillan.
    Using the successful Inside-Out program, in which incarcerated and non-incarcerated college students are taught in the same classroom, this book explores the practice of community-based learning, including the voices of teachers and participants, and offers a model for courses, student life programs, and faculty training.
  • Wiltse, Ed. 2010. Hope Across the Razor Wire: Student-Inmate Reading Groups at Monroe Correctional Facility. At the Interface/Probing the Boundaries, 67, 207-221.
    The ‘Jail Project’ is an ongoing service-learning project that brings together Nazareth College students in an introductory literature class with Monroe Correctional Facility inmates who have been provided with books for that class, for a series of meetings in jail classrooms to discuss literature and its relation to our lives.

Organizations

  • Inside Out (housed at Temple University)
    Inside-Out creates a dynamic partnership between institutions of higher learning and correctional systems in order to deepen the conversation about and transform our approaches to understanding crime, justice, freedom, inequality, and other issues of social concern.
  • Prison Studies Project
    The Prison Studies Project is compiling the first nationwide directory of higher education programs in U.S. prisons. Searchable and continually updated, the directory is an online, state-by-state listing of primarily on-site degree-granting postsecondary education programs in prisons. As a joint initiative with The Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice, the project works to increase educational opportunities for people who are incarcerated in all 50 states by supporting those who run higher educational programs in prison. When completed, it will serve as a preeminent domain for a national clearinghouse on postsecondary education in prison.
  • Vera Institute of Justice
    Vera currently works on nearly 60 projects in 47 states. Conducted in partnership with leaders in the public sector, our projects drive change by advancing new knowledge about justice reform and implementing solutions on the ground.

Exemplars

A) HIGHER EDUCATION IN THE PRISON

  • Boston College, Prison Education Program
    While all college students grow as they engage in new ways of thinking, the impact of education is especially evident in prison. Rigorous study gives prisoners the intellectual leverage they need to revise their view of themselves and leave prison better equipped to contribute positively to their families and communities.
  • City University of New York (CUNY), John Jay College of Criminal Justice
    The Prisoner Reentry Institute (PRI) is one of twelve institutes that collectively comprise the Research Consortium of John Jay College of Criminal Justice. PRI’s innovative reentry projects are unified by our devotion to a single mission: Easing reentry and guiding justice-involved people – and the practitioners dedicated to helping them – as they successfully reintegrate into their communities as thriving members of society. We do this through our three main tracks of policy advocacy, direct service practice, and collaborative partnerships.
  • Cornell University, Cornell Prison Education Program (CPEP)
    The mission of the Cornell Prison Education Program (CPEP) is to provide courses leading to college degrees for people incarcerated in upstate New York State prisons; to help CPEP students build meaningful lives inside prison as well as prepare for successful re-entry into civic life; and to inform thought and action on social justice issues among past and present CPEP students, volunteers, and the wider public.
  • Goucher College, Goucher Prison Education Partnership (GPEP)
    The Goucher Prison Education Partnership (GPEP), a division of Goucher College, gives men and women incarcerated in Maryland the opportunity to pursue an excellent college education.
  • Rutgers University – Newark, New Jersey Scholarship and Transformative Education in Prisons Consortium (NJ-TEP)
    The New Jersey Scholarship and Transformative Education in Prisons Consortium (NJ-STEP) is an association of higher education institutions in New Jersey that works in partnership with the New Jersey Department of Corrections and State Parole Board, to (a) provide higher education courses for all students under the custody of the State of New Jersey while they are incarcerated, and (b) assist in the transition to college life upon their release into the community. Our vision is that every person in prison who qualifies for college have the opportunity to take college classes while incarcerated and continue that education upon release.

B) COLLEGE ACCESS AND ADMISSION

  • University of California Berkeley, Underground Scholars Initiative
    The Underground Scholars Initiative (USI) is a student group at UC Berkeley that supports all current and prospective students impacted by mass incarceration, imprisonment, and involuntary detainment of any kind. One of our defining goals is to bridge the topic of mass incarceration that has been popularized in academia as a field of interest, and a subject of study, with one that is grounded in the lived experiences of UC Berkeley students. USI is working as a catalyst for the development of a Prison-to-School pipeline within the University of California. Some of our work includes mentoring prospective UC applicants through the application process and facilitating concurrent enrollment in the UC of formerly incarcerated community college students.
  • Red Rocks Community College, The Community Gateway Program
    The goal of the Gateway Program is to recruit, teach and inspire positive outcomes for individuals who are, or, who have been involved in the criminal justice system. Red Rocks Community College has specifically designed this program to accomplish this goal. College Gateway assist returning citizens in reconnecting with their career, family and community. Gateway addresses professional, educational and social goals in an innovative structured environment.

C) SERVICE-LEARNING AND INCARCERATION

  • University of Michigan LSA Residential College, Prison Creative Arts Project (PCAP)
    The Prison Creative Arts Project (PCAP) brings those impacted by the justice system and the University of Michigan Community into artistic collaboration for mutual learning and growth. We are a program of the LSA Residential College. Founded in 1990 with a single theatre workshop, PCAP has grown to include courses, exhibits, publications, arts programming, and events that reach thousands of people each year.
  • Nazareth College, Free Your Mind: The Jail Project
    The project asks students to attend a series of six one-hour meetings with inmates at MCF, write a journal, present their experiences to the class, and complete an activity that promotes awareness within the college community. Inside the jail, students and inmates meet around tables in a classroom. Nazareth’s Center for Service Learning sponsors the Jail Project and covers the cost of the inmates’ books.
  • Virginia Commonwealth University, OPEN MINDS Program
    OPEN MINDS is a college program sponsored by the Richmond City Sheriff’s Office and Virginia Commonwealth University offering dual enrollment classes held at the Richmond City Jail. These classes challenge participants to think critically about the social problems embedded in our current criminal justice system. All students learn to dialogue respectfully and imaginatively about their shared humanity; to write creatively and analytically in search of common ground; and to link the liberal arts to personal experience in meaningful ways so that we may work together to build positive change.
  • University of California Berkeley, American Cultures Engaged Scholarship (ACES)
    The American Cultures Engaged Scholarship (ACES) Program began as a partnership between the AC Center and the Public Service Center in January 2010 to bring together the goals of the AC curriculum and community-based learning, supporting and deepening both.  Generously supported by the Haas Jr. Fund, the initial charge was to create 30 new or revised AC courses with a community-engaged component, with a larger goal of shifting the values and culture around teaching and research on campus.

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