Last fall we were so excited to offer the first credit-bearing course in a Wisconsin prison in over 100 years. (This Isthmus article from February 2020 describes the fall program and its moving December graduation ceremony at Oakhill Correctional Institution.)
With all prisons closed to visitors and internet access difficult to arrange, we worried that Odyssey Beyond Bars would not be able to continue its mission of bringing transformative education into state prisons.
Through the Herculean efforts of Odyssey Beyond Bars director Peter Moreno and Odyssey codirector and writing instructor Kevin Mullen, however, and in partnership with the Department of Corrections, we found a way to offer a credit-bearing UW writing class for Oakhill student-prisoners online this fall. Men who applied shared their reasons for wanting to join the class:
“I grew up in foster care, and writing has always been an outlet for me, no matter what was going on. This class will help me grow as a writer and as a human being.”
“I’m hungry to learn more.”
“I can’t believe I’m actually sitting here, talking with a real UW professor. My mom is going to love this! She’s an elementary teacher, and she always said education can set you free. She’s going to be so excited!”
“I have six kids, and I want them to know that education is important, and that they can do it. It’s one thing for me to preach that kind of thing over the phone, but I want them to see me doing it. I want to show them that I practice what I preach, and that they can do it too.”
Watch your inbox next week for a new Odyssey Beyond Bars newsletter which will provide more information about our goal of bringing education and enrichment into Wisconsin prisons, along with ways you can help.