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Georgetown Launches Degree Program for Maryland Inmates

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Inmates from Maryland state prison can now pursue a college education from Georgetown University to better reintegrate into society upon their release.

The university has announced the launch of a full bachelor’s degree program developed in partnership with the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

The new program from the Georgetown Prisons and Justice Initiative (PJI)  will have its first class with 25 aspiring students from the maximum-security Patuxent Institution in Jessup, Maryland.

PJI believes that providing credit-bearing university courses to Maryland inmates can do wonders for their lives beyond prison. Newly-released offenders often have difficulty securing decent employment because of their criminal records, but this program hopes to change that.

“A degree from Georgetown and the interdisciplinary coursework behind it will prepare our graduates to reenter their communities and the workforce with pride in their academic achievements,” said PJI Director Marc Howard.

Prisons and Justice Initiative

Applicants will undergo an admissions process involving exams and interviews. To earn a slot, they will be evaluated based on preparedness, willingness and drive, as well as their potential to successfully complete the program.

Georgetown’s current undergraduate programs will serve as the blueprint for the new degree as inmates will avail themselves of “a wide selection of interdisciplinary coursework.” 

Students can choose among cultural humanities, interdisciplinary social science, and global intellectual history as their program focus. They are expected to fulfill 120 credit hours and finish their degrees in five years. PJI will provide access to resources such as library and research assistance, comprehensive reentry services, and career counseling.

Education for Incarcerated Students

Similar initiatives around the country have been established to provide inmates with increased access to higher education.

The Utah Senate passed a bill sponsored by Rep. Lowry Snow to provide incarcerated youth with better educational opportunities. Through the Dixie State University Higher Education for Incarcerated Youth Program, youth in custody can earn degrees or technical certificates while at the same time earning their high school diplomas.

Meanwhile, Boston College has launched the Prison Education Program, offering credit-bearing courses in introductory philosophy, algebra, and writing to 16 inmates housed at the Massachusetts Correctional Institute.

In 2019, Princeton University’s Prison Teaching Initiative received a grant of more than $5 million from the National Science Foundation to provide STEM education to inmates.

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