Odyssey Beyond Bars

Odyssey Beyond Bars is a new initiative to offer credit-bearing UW-Madison courses to students in prison at Oakhill Correctional Institution in Oregon, Wisconsin.  This effort builds upon noncredit enrichment courses that Odyssey and the Oakhill Prison Humanities Project have offered for several years inside Oakhill and other prisons.

Prison education is worth the investment.  Prisoners who complete at least some college coursework are more likely to be self-sufficient upon release and less likely to return to prison.  Explore the resources below to learn more.

How Education Makes A Difference

Read the latest about the positive impact of prison education programs:

Ending Ban on Pell Grants For Prisoners is Said to Yield ‘Cascade’ of Benefits

Chronicle of Higher Education, January 16, 2019. Most prisoners want to further their education, and about half of these prisoners want something beyond a high school diploma or technical certificate.

Throw The Books at Them: How More Training for Wisconsin’s Prisoners Could Help Companies

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, July 26, 2018. Mike Williams’ chance at education while incarcerated created a pathway to a successful career upon release.

How Effective is Correctional Education, and Where Do We Go from Here? 

RAND, 2014. Prison education dramatically reduces the odds that a released prisoner will return to prison. On average, every dollar spent on prison education saves four to five dollars in re-incarceration costs.

UW-Madison 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.


For more information, please contact the Odyssey Beyond Bars Director, Peter Moreno, or Odyssey’s prison enrichment course leader, Jean Feraca.

Header and Odyssey homepage photos courtesy of EJP, University of Illinois


Peter Moreno

Director, Odyssey Beyond Bars



Jean Feraca

Philosophy & Civic Engagement