Higher Education in Prison

Instructor Name: 
Deborah Rutt
Course Description: 

Drawing on poetry, political theory, sociological texts, film, and personal narratives, this course offers an introduction to prison and its critiques, as well as the power of education to transform individuals and societies. This hybrid course meets once a week at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility (CCCF); Capstone students will study together with women enrolled in higher education at the women’s prison, about 20 minutes south of PSU in Wilsonville. Successful background clearances are required in order to participate.

At Coffee Creek, Capstone students will be collaborating with inside students to support their higher ed pursuits, and for the online portion of the course, Capstone students will learn about the experience of incarceration for women and the impact on families and communities.

While mass incarceration is receiving greater attention as a critical social justice issue, attentiveness to the mass incarceration of women is still lacking. Indeed, the numbers of women in prison continue to grow more rapidly than men. Nationally, higher education programs in prisons are becoming a solution to addressing the consequences of mass incarceration. Prison education programs are cost-effective, help to improve the lives of the people in prison as well as the lives of generations of families affected by mass incarceration.

The Inside-Out model (www.insideoutcenter.org) creates a dynamic partnership between institutions of higher education and the correctional system in order to allow outside students and inside students the opportunity to recognize and appreciate their common humanity, and to offer pro-social educational opportunities for all involved. In this course, based on the Inside Out model, Capstone students will study together and alongside the women at CCCF who are students in higher education academic courses.