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.

How Education Makes A Difference

Read about the positive impact of prison education programs:

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.

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 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.



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

Peter Moreno

Director, Odyssey Beyond Bars



Kevin Mullen

Odyssey Project Co-Director



Jean Feraca

Philosophy & Civic Engagement


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