GU Launches Degree Program for Inmates

A Georgetown University initiative founded five years ago to respond to the crisis of incarceration and recidivism has begun offering a bachelor’s degree program to about two dozen individuals incarcerated at Patuxent Institution in Jessup, Maryland.

The new program will expand the Georgetown Prisons and Justice Initiative’s efforts to offer credit-bearing courses through its non-degree Prison Scholars Program, which has been available at the DC Jail since 2018. Over 150 people have participated in the Prison Scholars Program.

The recent expansion to Jessup has been funded by a million-dollar, three-year grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, with additional support by GU alumnus Damien Dwin. As a Second Chance Pell Experimental Site, Georgetown can offer federal financial aid to qualified students at Patuxent.

In addition to these opportunities, the university offers a Pivot Program for those who are incarcerated to get business and entrepreneurship training. There’s also a “Making an Exoneree” course for GU students to learn how to advocate for the wrongfully convicted, according to the Prisons and Justice Initiative website.

“As a university, we have a responsibility to advance the common good and empower the members of our community to share in this important work,” said Georgetown University President John DeGioia in a press release. “As a Catholic and Jesuit institution, this commitment has been a long-standing element of Georgetown’s mission and I’m grateful that this expansion of the Prison Scholars Program will ensure that future leaders who are currently incarcerated will be able to access the Georgetown academic experience as members of our community.”

Admission to the degree program is most likely going to be quite competitive. Applicants will be evaluated on preparedness, motivation and potential to succeed in the program.


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