Odyssey Beyond Bars


Odyssey Beyond Bars teaches credit-bearing and noncredit UW-Madison courses to students incarcerated in Wisconsin prisons.

Our program was created to help address the problem of mass incarceration in Wisconsin by giving students in prison the academic and professional opportunities they need to succeed when they re-enter our communities.

"I sit in Oakhill prison, look back, shake my head and think, 'Why? Where did I go wrong?'  But I smile looking into the future. . . This class has already opened my eyes to a better life for myself."

Odyssey Beyond Bars student

Prison education is worth the investment. People who complete college coursework while incarcerated are more likely to be self-sufficient upon re-entry and less likely to return to prison. Explore the resources below to learn more.


Supporting Odyssey Beyond Bars

You can support Odyssey Beyond Bars by visiting our Support Odyssey page or by clicking the button below and donating directly to the Odyssey Project Fund. All donations are tax deductible. For questions, please contact Jenny Pressman, Director of Development and Community Partnerships, at jenny.pressman@wisc.edu.


Odyssey Beyond Bars in the News

 Wisconsin is making progress to help more inmates get college educations — which can ‘completely redefine a life’

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, December 24, 2020. Former Odyssey Beyond Bars student Michael Backman shares his story of transformation through education and now looks towards a new and re-imagined future.

UW’s Tommy Thompson: Turn Wisconsin Prison Into College For Inmates

WPR, December 7, 2020. Odyssey Beyond Bars is assisting UW System with new and exciting initiatives that advance higher education opportunities for individuals who are incarcerated across the state.

Odyssey Beyond Bars provides opportunities for personal transformation and empowerment through prison education  

Madison365, October 29, 2020. Odyssey Beyond Bars continues to offer credit-bearing courses at Oakhill Correctional, despite the challenges of COVID-19.

Writing a New Future: Inmates Find Hope While Earning College Credits

Isthmus, February 20, 2020. UW-Madison teaches credit-bearing courses to students in prison for the first time in over 100 years.

UW-Madison Partners in the Prisons

A pioneer in Wisconsin prison education, UW-Madison’s Oakhill Prison Humanities Project has been teaching noncredit enrichment courses at Oakhill Correctional since 2005 and recently launched an exhibition of Oakhill art.

Prison Education in the Midwest

UW-Madison joins a growing number of universities leading prison education programs in neighboring states, including Illinois.



Odyssey Beyond Bars is a proud founding member of the UW Coalition for Higher Education in Prison (UW CHEP). UW CHEP was established in 2020 as a UW-based collective of programs and individuals who have come together in pursuit of a common mission: the advancement of higher education in Wisconsin’s prisons.

Sign up to learn more about the UW Coalition for Higher Education in Prison (UW CHEP)


For more information, please contact Odyssey Beyond Bars Director, Peter Moreno.

Peter Moreno

Position title: Director, Odyssey Beyond Bars

Email: peter.moreno@wisc.edu

Phone: 608-262-4555

Kevin Mullen

Position title: Odyssey Project Co-Director

Email: kevin.mullen@wisc.edu

Phone: 608-890-3330

Jean Feraca

Position title: Philosophy & Civic Engagement

Email: jean.feraca@gmail.com

Photo credits: Chris Bacarella, and EJP at the U. of Illinois.