The Prison Education Project (PEP) utilizes faculty volunteers and university students to provide education in 12 California correctional institutions. PEP has reached 6,000 inmates since 2011, making this initiative the most extensive volunteer-based prison education program in America. The ultimate goal of PEP is to flip the school-to-prison pipeline around, creating instead a prison-to-school pipeline
The aim of California’s Prison Education Project (PEP) is to reduce recidivism and encourage partnerships between the state’s colleges and prisons. Currently, PEP involves six prisons and about 2,000 prison inmates–both men and women. The program is delivered via 2,000 volunteers from regional colleges and community colleges. This volunteer-based outreach program is then complemented by the more formal Reintegration Academy that is a multi-part program that sees approved inmates enrolled in community college so they may attend courses upon their release. This multi-faceted project is set to expand; its goals are to reduce California’s rate of recidivism by at least 1% and save the state thousands of dollars in costs associated with the care and housing of prisoners.
Currently PEP is offered to inmates at the “California Institution for Men, the California Institution for Women, the California Rehabilitation Center, the Ventura Youth Correctional Facility, and the Old Folsom Men & Women’s facilities.” The program asserts that there are now 300 volunteers associated with the project. Their role is to “expand” the educational opportunities available for prisons. In that light, this program is designed to complement other prison-based initiatives such as the Reintegration Academy which is also featured on the PEP website.