Welcome to the Justice Education Initiative!
Officially inaugurated in 2018, the Justice Education Initiative is the product of over 25 years of pathbreaking work on a pioneering model of prison education. Our deep commitment to expanding educational access behind prison walls extends beyond them as well: to the equally powerful engagement of faculty, students, and community members with the profound personal impacts and societal implications of mass incarceration. Supported by a $1.1 million grant awarded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to Pitzer College, the Initiative coordinates collaborative justice education programs across the Claremont Colleges, at regional carceral institutions, and with local community partners.
Higher education yields the most dramatic sustained decreases in recidivism of any systematically implemented carceral programming. According to statistics published by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2014, approximately three of every four people (76.6%) released from prison are rearrested within five years of release. But for those who participate in prison GED and high school programs, the odds of recidivating plummet 43%, and even further to 13.7% for those who earn their associate’s degrees while incarcerated. For those who earn their bachelor’s degrees, recidivism drops to 5.6%, and for those who earn their master’s degrees, the rate of rearrest is 0%. Our commitment to expanding access to these vital rehabilitative programs resulted in the December 2020 launch of the country’s first in-prison bachelor’s degree pathway for currently incarcerated students based on a unique model of “Inside-Out” education. These dynamic courses bring equal numbers of incarcerated “inside” students and campus-based “outside” students together in carceral settings, and have proven to be as mutually transformative as they are engaging.
Through interdisciplinary courses ranging in topic from number theory to US immigration policy to emotional development, the Justice Education Initiative strives to creatively harness and augment the well-established rehabilitative potential of education for those who are incarcerated, and to forge new theoretical and pragmatic pathways for restorative responses to one of the most urgent social dilemmas of the contemporary era.
To confront mass incarceration as a defining social problem of the contemporary era, The Claremont Colleges have launched the Justice Education Initiative. Supported by a $1.1 million grant awarded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to Pitzer College, the Initiative will coordinate collaborative justice education programs across The Claremont Colleges, at regional carceral institutions and with local community partners.