For many years, the Wesleyan student community has been passionately committed to extending educational resources into prison.  The Center for Prison Education was established by a group of undergraduates who had spent their time in college engaged in prison activism and volunteerism.  The outcome of extensive collaboration between faculty, students, and administrators, the Center was officially founded by a vote of the Wesleyan faculty in May 2009 as a two-year pilot program. 

In the Fall of 2009 we admitted our first cohort of students--nineteen men at Cheshire Prison Correctional Institution, a maximum-security facility. Another 72 men have since been admitted and an additional 50 engaged in college prep workshops. In the spring of 2013, the Center expanded to York Correctional Institution, the only state women’s facility in Connecticut, admitting an inaugural cohort of 19 women. Now in it’s tenth academic year, the Center serves 66 incarcerated men and women.

In 2016 the CPE and Middlesex Community College developed an innovative public-private educational partnership. This partnership enabled us to grant Associate degrees to our students. We had our first graduation in 2018, awarding a degree to 18 men at Cheshire and 6 women at York. 

The CPE plans to grow by approximately 20 students each year through biannual admissions at each facility. Looking forward, the CPE hopes to become a leader in bringing the national movement to reinstate post-secondary education in prison to the state of Connecticut.