A Southwestern College class is underway at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility. Photo via Megan Burks for KPBS.


On September 16th, the Michelson 20MM Foundation and RAND Corporation present, “College Education in Prison: A How-To Guide for Corrections Officials.” The event aims to address a needed professional development gap in successful higher education in prison programming: training correctional officials. The conversation will lead to insights on strengthening cross-sector partnership success between corrections and institutions of higher education—two essential stakeholders in high quality, higher education in prison programming.  This event will feature key takeaways from RAND Corporation’s newly published toolkit, “What Corrections Officials Need to Know to Partner with Colleges to Implement College Programs in Prisons,” with lead author Dr. Lois M. Davis moderating a panel of corrections officials and higher education practitioners who will share lessons learned. 

“College programs in prison are fundamentally a partnership between corrections and colleges,” Davis said. “This event and the guide are intended as a starting point for corrections officials who are considering such a partnership or who may seek additional information to ensure the success of an existing program.” 

Supporting Prison Officials

RAND Corporation was one of the first Smart Justice Initiative grant awardees due to their exceptional research advancing the field of higher education in prison. The Corrections Guide supporting prison officials in establishing high-quality college educational programs for students who are currently incarcerated adds an important professional development element to this body of work. The guide is co-authored by the late John Linton, former director of correctional education in the U.S. Department of Education.

The goal of this conversation and the guide is to expand access to high quality, higher education programming for students who are currently incarcerated. With Pell Reinstatement and states nationwide expanding funding for higher education in prison programming, this conversation will address common questions and concerns corrections officials and higher education practitioners have about starting, maintaining, and strengthening a college program.

Back to Basics: Benefits, Funding, Partnerships, and Buy-In

The event will provide guidance about in-prison college programs and help corrections officials in assessing such opportunities and partnering with colleges to implement an in-prison college program. The guide breaks down the basics of in-prison college programs into benefits, funding, partnerships, and buy-in. 

Panelists include: 

  • Sean Addie, Correctional Education Director, U.S. Department of Education 
  • Heather Gay, Education Manager, Michigan Department of Corrections
  • Carroll Seron, UC Irvine Professor Emerita and Associate Director of UCI LIFTED
  • Todd Butler, Dean, Jackson College, Michigan

“Education has a transformational impact on an individual’s life –– and education plays a crucial role in easing an individual’s reentry from jail or prison back into society,” said Addie, who will serve as a panelist. “Postsecondary educational programs offered in prisons give incarcerated students new opportunities to improve their education, obtain employment, reconnect with family, and re-engage with their communities. And successful programs require strong partnerships between institutions of higher education and correctional agencies.”

We invite you to join the conversation on September 16th to hear from correctional education officials and higher education in prison experts. The event will bring concepts from the guide alive and share a few of its key takeaways. Click here to register. 

Michelson 20MM was founded thanks to the generous support of renowned spinal surgeon and inventor Dr. Gary K. Michelson and his wife, Alya Michelson. The Michelson 20MM Foundation is dedicated to supporting and investing in leading organizations, technologies, and initiatives that seek to transform learning and improve access to educational opportunities that lead to a meaningful career. Learn more at www.20mm.org.