Illuminating Journalism from American Public Media
Rewriting the Sentence
Higher education behind the bars of San Quentin
California's San Quentin State Prison north of San Francisco is one of few prisons in the nation to offer a college education to inmates. Here's a look at the Prison University Project behind the prison walls.
Rewriting the Sentence: College Behind Bars
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September 8, 2016
The Prison University Project offers higher education classes to about 350 students at San Quentin State Prison outside of San Francisco. Although college classes once were fairly common in the nation's prisons, cutbacks in federal financial support have eliminated many programs. In California, many inmates transfer to San Quentin specifically to enroll in the project, whose waitlist is almost six months long.
Most students start in the program's college preparatory classes in math and English, but they study humanities, social sciences, and science as well. They eventually can earn Associates of Arts degrees.
Photographer Elisabeth Fall recently spent time chronicling the program and its enrollees.