Odyssey Beyond Bars

Odyssey Beyond Bars is a new initiative to expand Odyssey’s presence in Wisconsin’s prison system.  In collaboration with the Wisconsin Department of Corrections and institutional staff, Odyssey teachers have been offering non-credit enrichment courses based on the Odyssey curriculum to men in two Wisconsin state prisons.

The goal of Odyssey Beyond Bars is to build on these efforts and offer one or more credit-bearing courses to student-prisoners.  A successful Odyssey-led prison education effort could facilitate the introduction of other credit-bearing UW courses in the prison system.

Impact of Prison Education

  • Wisconsin prisons hold approximately 23,000 people, at a cost of $38,000 per prisoner annually.
  • About a third of Wisconsin’s prison population is released into communities each year, but many of these men and women wind up back in prison within a few years.
  • UW-Madison can help break the cycle of re-incarceration.  Prisoners who participate in educational programs are much less likely to return to prison, and more likely to find stable jobs to support their families.  A recent national survey of prison education research concluded that every dollar invested in prison education saves nearly five dollars in re-incarceration costs.

To learn more about Wisconsin prisons and the impacts of prison education, please see the articles below:

The Wisconsin Taxpayer: Inside Wisconsin Corrections

The Vera Institute of Justice: The Price of Prisons

The RAND Corporation: How Effective Is Correctional Education, and Where Do We Go From Here?


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

Peter Moreno

Director, Odyssey Beyond Bars



Jean Feraca

Philosophy & Civic Engagement