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Earning a College Degree in Prison Gives Ex-Offenders a Chance

George Chochos
George Chochos.

Back in 1990, there were more than 300 college-in-prison programs in the U.S. By 1997, the number was down to less than ten -- eliminated as part of the nation’s movement to get "tough on crime." 

Research shows that college-behind-bars can be among the most effective ways to stop prison’s revolving door, and give ex-offenders a chance to lead successful and productive lives once they’re on the outside.

This hour, we meet a man who earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees while in prison in New York State. We also talk with folks from the Center for Prison Education, which offers Wesleyan University classes to inmates at several prisons in Connecticut. 

And later, a researcher from the RAND Corporation tells us abouta study on the effectiveness of correctional education programsacross the U.S.


  • George Chochos - Earned two degrees while serving a 14-year prison sentence in New York State; current student at Yale Divinity School
  • Dara Young - Program manager of Wesleyan University's Center for Prison Education
  • Michael McAlear - Associate Professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry at Wesleyan University
  • Dr. Lois Davis - Senior Policy Researcher with the RAND Corporation

Join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

Chion Wolf contributed to this show. 

Diane Orson is a special correspondent with Connecticut Public. She is a longtime reporter and contributor to National Public Radio. Her stories have been heard on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition and Here And Now. Diane spent seven years as CT Public Radio's local host for Morning Edition.

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