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16 Students From Northwestern University's Prison Education Program Graduate


In a groundbreaking achievement, the Northwestern #Prison Education Program (NPEP) marked a historic moment on November 15 as incarcerated students received bachelor's degrees from Northwestern University, a top 10 institution. The ceremony took place inside the Stateville Correctional Center in Crest Hill, #Illinois, making it the first time in U.S. history that such degrees have been conferred within a prison setting.


The event drew nearly 300 attendees, including NPEP students, Northwestern faculty, friends and family of the graduates, and lawmakers. Award-winning author Ta-Nehisi Coates, known for "Between the World and Me," addressed the graduating class, expressing a personal connection to their journey and commending their achievements.

Jennifer Lackey, the founding director of NPEP, emphasized the transformative power of education, stating that the graduates had expanded the definition of being a Northwestern student. The program, in partnership with Oakton College and the Illinois Department of Corrections since 2018, admitted its inaugural class in January 2022.

#Illinois Governor JB #Pritzker and Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton also congratulated the graduates, with Stratton highlighting the societal impact of prison education programs, which have been shown to reduce recidivism rates by 43%.


The 16 graduates will continue to contribute to NPEP as teaching assistants and fellows, supporting around 60 students pursuing bachelor's degrees at Stateville Correctional Center. The ceremony signifies a significant step forward in prison education, showcasing the transformative potential of education within the criminal legal system.

Congrats to the Northwestern Prison Education Program students, and we wish them much success.

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