You all know that I'm a sociologist by training, and if you know many sociologists, you know that means I am very concerned with social justice issues. One of the biggest issues we face in the U.S. today is the problem of our skyrocketing prison populations and the many barriers ex-prisoners face when they return to society after serving their sentences. Education while in prison, especially higher education, drastically reduces recidivism rates.
Of course, access to higher education while in prison is limited. It seems to me that distance education--whether online or not--is an excellent solution to this problem. Getting ELI involved in purposefully, actively serving incarcerated people across Virginia seems to me an excellent way for us to serve our community.
I've had some great assistance recently in gathering information about what seems to be a very small number of colleges with programs for incarcerated students, and I will be working this summer on learning about these other programs and trying to figure out what we could do on this front at ELI.
What are your thoughts, questions, concerns, ideas on this? And what other underserved populations do you think ELI should be actively trying to reach?