In the United States of America there are more people incarcerated than in any other developed country. The majority of people released from incarceration become recidivists. Many people who are incarcerated serve their time and return to the same circumstances that led to their incarceration. First time offenders are often released to much worse circumstances because they now have their options in regards to life essentials such as housing and employment limited by a criminal conviction. Despite these unfortunate realities, the potential within many people affected by this vicious cycle can still be reached.
Many researchers have concluded that post-secondary education can have a positive impact on preventing recidivism. Through pursuing an education, formerly incarcerated college students embark on a transformative journey that leads to a reduced risk of becoming a recidivist. In addition to new opportunities for employment, transitioning from prison to college can play a role in reshaping character, identity, and values for the formerly incarcerated.
There are many studies on prison-based college programs but there is very little research in regards to the experiences of students in college post incarceration. In order to address this gap, the method of inquiry chosen for this project was autoethnography. The result of this project is a workshop and workbook designed to help people transition from prison to college. Workshop participants will be introduced to many key topics regarding the transition from prison to college. Participants will be walked through the process of applying for admission as well as financial aid. They will also be introduced to campus and community resources that can assist them in their transition.
There are ten workshop sessions and 10 related workbook units. The goals and objectives of the workshop and workbook are directly related to the lived experiences uncovered through the research process. The topics include The Transformative Nature of Post-Secondary Education, Leaving the Criminal Lifestyle Behind, Community Resources, Academic and Career Options, Financial Aid, College Life, Being a Felon on Campus, Facing Adversity, Doing School Work, and Bringing it all Together. Within the major topics, each areas of focus is addressed through secondary content that helps reach the workshop objectives.
Keywords: Recidivism, higher education, mass incarceration, autoethnography, workshop.