This article takes up the central question of how college-level prison education programs should be justified and defended. Author Patrick Filipe Conway argues that the focus on recidivism rates as justification for major initiatives like the Second Chance Pell Program and New York governor Andrew Cuomo’s Right Priorities initiative is misguided and puts the long-term viability of prison education programs at risk. He builds his argument on an analysis of the funding sources for Cuomo’s initiative as well as on an exploration of the potential negative pedagogical impacts of justification through recidivism rates and taxpayer savings. The article contends that a better defense of college-level prison education is one that locates it as a type of firm counterbalance to the inherent inequities within our communities and the US judicial system, thus better capturing the full ethical responsibility behind the commitment to higher education in prison.

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