The Value of Higher Education for Currently and Formerly Incarcerated Individuals

Renewing Communities is a four-year initiative based in California that seeks to provide high-quality courses to students inside prisons and jails, and to help formerly incarcerated students on college campuses transform their lives.

Allen, for example, is serving time at the California State Prison at Lancaster while also enrolled in the state’s only face-to-face bachelor’s degree program for incarcerated individuals, offered by Cal State LA. His stepdaughter, Zion, is now getting ready to start her freshmen year at the same university. Watch their story below:

This video is part of a series being produced by Renewing Communities to highlight the value of having a statewide, sustainable network of high-quality college opportunities and support for currently and formerly incarcerated individuals. A study conducted by RAND, a research nonprofit organization, showed that participants in prison college programs have a 51 percent lower rate of returning to crime, and the odds of obtaining employment are higher for those who participate in education.

The Heising-Simons Foundation’s Human Rights program has invested a total of $500,000 over four years in a pooled fund to support Renewing Communities’ pilot programs, including the evaluation and sharing of results.

Find out more about Renewing Communities here.

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