The Prison University Project is committed to advocating for the continued success of its students, working with institutions to support rehabilitative programming, and spearheading the conversation around national prison reform. We strive to create change through the following:

• Promoting access to quality education inside prisons

• Humanizing the image of incarcerated people in the public imagination

• Advocating for a transformed criminal justice system

• Developing leaders in the incarcerated community


In recent years the Prison University Project has gained increasing recognition for its efforts both in California and nationally:

  • In 2016, we were awarded the National Humanities Medal for “transforming the lives of currently incarcerated people through higher education” and “providing an example for others to emulate.”
  • Countless current and former students have been featured in local and national media, both for their work within our program at San Quentin, as well as for other organizations and activities with which they are affiliated.
  • Prison University Project alumni are routinely featured as speakers at schools and colleges, as well as in public events, conferences, and legislative hearings.

Looking Ahead:

  • To support the growth and development of the field, we are currently working alongside representatives of other prison higher education programs from around the country to establish the new National Alliance for Higher Education in Prison.​​
For currently and formerly incarcerated people and their families, higher education in prison practitioners, and others impacted by the criminal justice system, check out our Resources page.