Best Practices for Postsecondary Education in Prison Programs Released by Vera Institute of Justice | Ascendium Education Group, Inc. Skip to main content


Newsletter Article December 11, 2020

Best Practices for Postsecondary Education in Prison Programs Released by Vera Institute of Justice

Vera Institute of Justice (Vera) has published its new report, First Class: Starting a Postsecondary Education Program in Prison, to help college and corrections agency administrators further develop and improve their postsecondary education in prison programs. This impactful report is a noteworthy example of the work Vera is producing through our $1.1 million grant to implement high-quality postsecondary education in prison programs.

The rules and norms for creating and operating a postsecondary education program in a prison are very different than for programs offered in a typical campus setting. As a result, it’s challenging to start these types of programs. This new report delineates common issues and best practices to help administrators plan and launch their programs. Vera has outlined 10 educational units that colleges and corrections agencies can use, supported by a set of objectives and tasks for each:

  • Unit 1: Guiding principles for postsecondary education programs in prison
  • Unit 2: Forming an implementation team
  • Unit 3: Setting up a satellite campus and designing the program
  • Unit 4: Establishing a partnership using a memorandum of understanding
  • Unit 5: Determining program funding, financial aid and budgets
  • Unit 6: Creating academic and operational calendars
  • Unit 7: Recruiting and training college personnel
  • Unit 8: Recruiting, enrolling and registering students
  • Unit 9: Creating a learning environment
  • Unit 10: Planning for emergencies

“Because postsecondary education in prison combines two very different worlds, bureaucracies, sets of policies and practices, colleges and corrections agencies new to this field will find that melding these two systems takes time, patience, creativity and tenacity,” notes the report.

This report is a key piece in Ascendium’s focus area to Expand Postsecondary Education in Prison and our investment priority of developing high-quality postsecondary education in prison delivery models. Some other recently published, Ascendium-sponsored pieces include The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Market Primer: Educating the Incarcerated, the Alliance for Higher Education in Prison’s The Landscape of Higher Education in Prison report and the Institute for Higher Education Policy’s Supporting Success: The Higher Education in Prison Key Performance Indicator Framework.

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