APM Reports: Rewriting the Sentence: College Behind Bars

For decades, the United States’ prison population has grown exponentially. And today, more than 2 million Americans are incarcerated. But most people who enter prison eventually come out, and every year about 700,000 prisoners return to society. About half of those released will be back behind bars within three years. One of the best, most cost-effective ways to reduce recidivism is to provide education to inmates. In this documentary, we explore the history of educational programs in prison; examine their effect on incarcerated individuals and on society; and ask why they are not more widespread. We follow a class of imprisoned students trying to make their way through their first semester, from orientation through final exams. And we visit a women’s facility where a group of inmates, led by a former prison guard-turned-professor, have been publishing a body of research that’s changing historians’ understanding of the history of prisons.

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