The Prison Scholars Program brings higher education opportunities to students incarcerated in D.C. and Maryland. Turning carceral spaces into college classrooms, the program empowers its students through a transformative education experience. These Scholars expand their thinking, engage with their peers, challenge themselves academically, and build self-confidence.
“Education has changed the trajectory of my life … It has given me purpose as a human being.”
Halim Flowers, former Prison Scholar
Prison Scholars at the D.C. Jail began in 2018 with non-credit courses and has quickly expanded into a robust, year-round education program that offers three credit-bearing courses per semester plus a weekly guest lecture series. Students take classes in a variety of liberal arts topics through the Georgetown College of Arts & Sciences while they await trial, serve short sentences, or prepare to return to their communities after a longer period of incarceration in the federal prison system.
The Prison Scholars Program at the D.C. Jail is a rare example of a prison education program that offers courses for incarcerated men and women together, ensuring that all residents at the facility have the opportunity to pursue higher education.
The Bachelor of Liberal Arts Program is an expansion of the Prison Scholars Program that offers a full bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University for incarcerated students in Maryland. The program’s first cohort of students began classes in early 2022 at the Patuxent Institution in Jessup, Md., and will earn degrees, granted by Georgetown College of Arts & Sciences, in five years. The bachelor’s degree is modeled after Georgetown’s on-campus undergraduate programs and brings the university’s academic caliber and rich history of liberal arts in the Jesuit tradition to incarcerated students.
The purpose of the Prison Scholars Program is to empower incarcerated students through a transformative college education experience, preparing them to pursue a positive role in their home communities when they return. Our mission is backed by a large body of evidence suggesting that college education in jails and prisons reduces recidivism and costs, creates safer communities and stronger families, and greatly enhances the employment prospects of returning citizens.
Georgetown is uniquely positioned to create a strong and successful prison education program: We have extensive and distinguished faculty, enthusiastic and committed students, a prime location in proximity to Washington policymakers, and a 30-year history of prison outreach. The Prison Scholars Program also embodies Georgetown’s Jesuit commitment to cura personalis, “care for the whole person,” and charitable values.
Professor Mike Ryan, who has taught Personal Finance at the D.C. Jail, said that the Prison Scholars Program has made him a better teacher and learner, emphasizing that educators should continue to get involved in prison education.…