Augustana Prison Education Program Offers Free 4-Year Degree



The Augustana Prison Education Program gives inmates the opportunity to earn a four-year degree free of charge.

EAST MOLINE, Ill. – Inmates who have been incarcerated for over 20 years at East Moline Correctional Center will have the opportunity to enroll in a four-year Bachelor of Arts program at Augustana College.

The institution launched the Augustana Prison Education Program on August 31 with a group of 10 students.

According to a press release from the Illinois Department of Corrections on Wednesday, students are taking classes from Augustana professors who teach the same classes on the main Rock Island campus.

The program currently offers communication studies with other majors which are expected to be added in the future. The liberal arts program includes history, literature, mathematics, foreign languages, religion, science, and the arts.

Illinois Department of Corrections Director Rob Jeffreys believes the program is helpful for inmates looking to make positive change.

“A college degree is invaluable for people in detention who are committed to changing their lives and ensuring the financial stability of their families,” said Jeffreys. “Studies show that education programs in prison dramatically decrease the likelihood that an individual will reoffend, which is a primary goal of IDOC. ”

The education program was modeled on the Bard Prison Initiative, which is featured in the 2019 PBS documentary, College behind bars.

“Much like our traditional students on campus, our incarcerated students will be grappling with questions about what they know, how they relate to others, and who they want to be. At Augustana, students acquire the knowledge and skills to become leaders in a diverse and changing world, ”said Augustana Vice President and Principal Dr. Wendy Hilston-Morrow.

Students enrolled in the Augustana Prison Education Program do not have to pay any tuition or associated course fees. All costs are funded by the Austin E. Knowlton Foundation.



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