The Hope-Western Prison Education Program operated in a non-credit mode from March 2018 through July 2021. The 20 students in the program’s first cohort took six courses and engaged in two book studies in this pilot phase of the program. Here is what we learned:
Proposition 1: Incarcerated men serving long sentences are capable of successfully completing college-level coursework.
Proposition 2: Incarcerated students can competently read, reflect critically, speak powerfully, and write cogently about challenging texts.
Proposition 3: Incarcerated students are capable of generative thinking and creative expression in different genres.
Proposition 4: Incarcerated students are capable of enlarging their imaginations for lives marked by significant personal, intellectual, and spiritual transformation.
Proposition 5: Traditional WTS and Hope students are interested and capable teaching assistants, and are deeply impacted by the experience.
Proposition 6: There is a high demand for the program.
Proposition 7: Faculty have the personal and professional interest and capacity to teach an occasional course over and above their normal Holland-campus assignments.
Proposition 8: Faculty find inspiration and professional fulfillment in teaching in prison.
Proposition 9: Faculty can successfully modify their pedagogical methods to fit the constraints imposed by prison security rules.
Proposition 10: Faculty are willing to plan curriculum for prison-based courses consistent with the goals, objectives, and rigor of Holland-based courses.
Proposition 11: MDOC and Muskegon Correctional Facility leadership is capable of accommodating HWPEP’s learning objectives within the context of their security and custody mandate.
Proposition 12: MDOC and Muskegon Correctional Facility leadership is committed to supporting and grateful for the presence of the Hope-Western Prison Education Program.
Proposition 13: MDOC and Muskegon Correctional Facility leadership is willing to commit the necessary planning time to ensure the program’s success.
Proposition 14: MDOC officials will advocate with Federal officials on behalf of the Hope-Western Prison Education Program.
Proposition 15: Friends of the college and seminary are interested in learning about the Hope-Western Prison Education Program.
Proposition 16: Friends of the college and seminary will partner financially to launch the program.
Proposition 17: The program’s purposes are “trans-partisan” and are supported by both political/theological conservatives and progressives.
HWPEP students are “proving it.”