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Distributed for Brandeis University Press

Education Behind the Wall

Why and How We Teach College in Prison

Distributed for Brandeis University Press

Education Behind the Wall

Why and How We Teach College in Prison

An edited volume reflecting on different aspects of teaching in prison and different points of view.

This book seeks to address some of the major issues faced by faculty who are teaching college classes for incarcerated students. Composed of a series of case studies meant to showcase the strengths and challenges of teaching a range of different disciplines in prison, this volume brings together scholars who articulate some of the best practices for teaching their expertise inside alongside honest reflections on the reality of educational implementation in a constrained environment. The book not only provides essential guidance for faculty interested in developing their own courses to teach in prisons, but also places the work of higher education in prisons in philosophical context with regards to racial, economic, social, and gender-based issues. Rather than solely a how-to handbook, this volume also helps readers think through the trade-offs that happen when teaching inside, and about how to ensure the full integrity of college access for incarcerated students.

248 pages | 1 halftone, 3 figures, 1 table | 6 x 9

Brandeis Series in Law and Society

Education: Curriculum and Methodology, Higher Education

Law and Legal Studies: Law and Society

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“Why teach in prison, how to teach in prison, who is taught in prison—these are the compelling questions that motivate the superb essays in Education Behind the Wall. Important at both a theoretical and practical level, this is necessary reading whether you are a veteran of prison instruction or you are only now considering the prospect of prison teaching.”

Mary Fainsod Katzenstein, Emerita, Department of Government, Cornell University

"From a resounding forward by Lee Pelton that grounds the importance of college in prison in the bonds between education and democracy, to Mneesha Gellman’s ethically nuanced and politically savvy closing argument, Gellman and her collaborators have given us a superb book that asks the tough questions about why to do this work, and it offers a host of practical answers on how to do it well."

Daniel Karpowitz, Assistant Commissioner, MN DOC & Special Advisor to Governor Tim Walz

“When you go to prison, it is rare to get a second chance. This book shows why college in prison is so important. The chapters reveal not only opportunities for higher learning, but pathways to change lives.”

John Yang, former Emerson Prison Initiative student

Table of Contents

Lee Pelton

Introduction: Making the case for bringing college to prison
Mneesha Gellman

PART I: Why We Teach in Prison

Teaching Literature Inside: The Poet’s Report
Kimberly McLarin and Wendy W. Walters

Days in the Life of a College-in-Prison Professor
Shelly Tenenbaum

Educating Survivors of the Cradle-to-Prison Pipeline
Elizabeth Langan

PART II: How We Teach in Prison
Genre-based Writing as Empowering Practice for Incarcerated Students
Stephen Shane

The Logistics of Preparing to Teach Inside
Cara Moyer-Duncan

Paywalls, Firewalls, Prison Walls: Bridging the Digital Divide within the Prison Education System
Christina E. Dent

Economics as Literacy for Life
Sally Moran Davidson

One Foot In, One Foot Out: Senior Theses and Remote Internships in the Prison Space
Justin McDevitt and A.D. Seroczynski

PART III: Who We Teach

“You’da done that, you’da been in here with us”
Bill Littlefield

Learning to Live
Alexander X

Author biographies
Appendix: Recommendations for further study

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