Over the past decade, the Prison University Project (PUP), the only college-degree granting prison in California, has taught over 1,000 students. PUP, led by Jody Lewen and located at San Quentin Prison. I was lucky enough to volunteer there as a teacher, and was inspired by the students and the staff.
Much of the rationale for offering a college education to prisoners focuses on recidivism: prisoners with an education are significantly less likely to return. But PUP's Academic Program Director Amy Jamgochian emphasizes that education is also important for the prisoners who are never going to get out. It especially helps incarcerated fathers connect to their families. As Jamgochian says, “They’re able to show their families they were doing something positive; they’re able to be role models as parents and as children."