To advance Wesleyan's commitment to civic engagement by offering college courses to incarcerated individuals, in order both to enrich the lives of those who are systematically denied access to educational opportunities and to enhance Wesleyan's academic community.
The Center for Prison Education offers a high-caliber liberal arts education inside prison walls. Through the CPE, prisoners at the Cheshire and MacDougall prisons are invited to apply to take accredited Wesleyan courses taught by Wesleyan faculty members. After a rigorous application process, eighteen selected students are transferred to Cheshire Prison, where they are enrolled in courses that receive full Wesleyan credit.
The CPE offers a broad curriculum of Wesleyan courses in the humanities and natural and social sciences. Students at Cheshire work closely with faculty and collaborate with students from the main campus, who act as writing tutors, teaching assistants, and peers. Currently, we have thirty-six students at Cheshire, with plans to open a second campus at York Prison for women in the summer of 2012. Enrolling new cohorts routinely at these facilties, the CPE intends to grow by approximately twenty students each year.
The CPE offers numerous volunteer and service-learning opportunities for main-campus students as well. Extending their on-campus leadership roles, many upperclassmen serve as writing tutors and teaching assistants for courses at Cheshire. Students have the opportunity to work closely with incarcerated men, women, and youths through college-prep and academic workshops. The CPE also offers policy and research internships to students on Wesleyan's main campus.
By fostering innovative and collaborative learning, the CPE offers a dynamic approach to reduce rates of reincarceration and democratize access to educational opportunity. The CPE is a member of the Consortium for the Liberal Arts in Prison at Bard College.