Our Mission and Philosophy

Our Program is dedicated to a simple concept: no one in society should be deprived of access to ideas. This has led all of us, through different paths, to seek opportunities to teach and learn outside the walls of the academy, built to keep people out on the basis of their social standing and financial means. And it has ultimately led us to bring intellectual discussion inside the walls of the prison, a space that too many people consider radically separate from society. We see society as a whole riddled with locked doors and those of the prison are just one more set that we hope to open.

Everyone in the program is a scholar, and we think of ourselves as on equal moral and intellectual footing – we strive to create course content as a collaboration between teachers and students, and to make classes free-ranging discussions and workshops more than lectures.

While we hope that student partners who leave the prison will find what they have learned helpful in re-integrating into non-incarcerated life, our program is not specifically focused on re-entry. Rather, we are convinced that intellectual discourse, critical engagement, and self-reflection are inherent parts of a flourishing human life inside or outside prison walls, and valuable for their own sake.


The JCI Scholars Program is kindly welcomed and facilitated by the staff and administration of the Jessup Correctional Institution, but it is an independent group of volunteer teachers and students not formally affiliated with Jessup Correctional Institution. Views and positions expressed on this website are those of the JCI Scholars Program, and not of the Jessup Correctional Institution. Ideas expressed in postings to the “news and views” section of the website are the responsibility of the individual authors and do not necessarily represent the views of their home institutions, Jessup Correctional Institution or the JCI Scholars Program as a whole.

Photos on the site by Mark Hejnar and J.M. Giordano. Artwork by Warren “RenaissanZ RZen” Hynson.