College of Liberal Arts

A Different Kind of Prison Sentence

Tue, Jan 29, 2019
Volunteer instructors Sarah Brayne, Lindsay Bing and Armando Tellez on the first day of class with TPEI.
Volunteer instructors Sarah Brayne, Lindsay Bing and Armando Tellez on the first day of class with TPEI.

Texas has the largest prison population in the U.S., and among the highest rate of incarceration for all age groups. And yet when assistant professor of sociology Sarah Brayne arrived at The University of Texas at Austin she found no campus-wide prison education program, despite evidence that such programs significantly reduce recidivism rates.

Brayne, who has been teaching in prisons since graduate school, responded by founding the Texas Prison Education Initiative (TPEI). With the help of sociology graduate student Lindsay Bing, they crafted the program with three goals in mind:

  1. that students would receive college credit
  2. that the courses be free of cost to students
  3. that they be in liberal arts subjects rather than the vocational offerings that comprise much of prison education.

Why the focus on liberal arts over seemingly more practical vocational skills? 

Read the full story on Life & Letters online

 

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