The East Moline Correctional Center and Augustana College have partnered for the first four-year Bachelor of Arts program for inmates in more than 20 years. The Augustana Prison Education Partnership (APEP) launched August 31 with 10 students.
As much of the world has been using virtual options in everyday life, these students are taking classes from Augustana College professors who teach the same courses on the college’s main campus in Rock Island. The startup program offers a Communication Studies major, with more majors added in the future. The liberal arts curriculum includes history, literature, mathematics, foreign languages, religion, science and the arts.
“A college degree is invaluable for individuals in custody who are committed to turning their lives around and ensuring financial stability for their families,” said Illinois Department of Corrections Director Rob Jeffreys. “Studies prove that prison education programs drastically decrease the likelihood of an individual recidivating, which is a primary goal of IDOC.”
“Just as with our traditional on-campus students, our incarcerated students will grapple with questions of what they know, how they relate to others and who they want to become,” said Dr. Wendy Hilton-Morrow, Vice President and Provost at Augustana College. “At Augustana, students gain the knowledge and skills necessary to become leaders in a diverse and changing world. We anticipate the same will be true for our students at EMCC (East Moline Correctional Center).”
Augustana College modeled the program after the Bard Prison Initiative, featured in the 2019 PBS documentary “College Behind Bars.” APEP students do not pay tuition or any costs associated with the coursework. The program has been funded by the Austin E. Knowlton Foundation.