Launched in 2016, the UCLA Prison Education Program creates innovative courses that enable faculty and students at the University of California, Los Angeles to learn from, and alongside, participants incarcerated at the California Institution for Women (CIW), Barry J. Nidorf (BJN) Juvenile Hall, Camp Joseph Scott (CJS) correctional facility for girls, and the Custody to Community Transitional Reentry Program (CCTRP) correctional facility for women.
The program has received overwhelming support from over 300 students, and more than 30 UCLA faculty members who have guest lectured or taught courses, and over a dozen community partner organizations. The restorative justice-informed courses offered to date include: Narratives of Change, Narratives of Justice, Narratives of Agency, Politics and Poetry of Malcolm X: Oral History Research Practicum, Microphone Fiends: Hip-Hop and Spoken Word, Analytical Methods for Forensic Science, Legislative Theater for Racial Justice, Spoken Word: Creative Writing and Performance Practicum, Liberating Fictions: Writing the Latin American Microcuento and Vignette, and Wonder Woman: Myth and Society.
The program comprises of several committees which include UCLA faculty, students and community volunteers. The current committee list includes: communication, curriculum, evaluation and development. The steering committee oversees the entire operation and communication between these units
The mission of the UCLA Prison Education Program is to make post-secondary education accessible to women and young people who are currently incarcerated, and to bring UCLA faculty and students to learn alongside them, thereby challenging bias, discrimination, and injustice in a shared and collaborative learning experience.This is an extraordinary opportunity for us to more fully realize UCLA’s mission as a public research institution: to create, disseminate and apply knowledge for the betterment of our global society. Offering an education to incarcerated persons not only reduces suicide rates and sentence lengths, but also brings more voices into our society’s conversations. Debates over the ethics of private prisons, the validity of deterrence as a justification for punishment, and how to reduce the highest rate of imprisonment in human history must be discussed not just hypothetically, by free people, but also by people with experience in the criminal justice system.