17:19 GMT19 April 2021
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    The US has the largest prison population in the world, as well as the highest per-capita incarceration rate. Georgetown University’s Prisons and Justice Initiative was first established in 2016 to address mass incarceration issues in the US.

    In a press release issued this week, Georgetown said it would build on its Prisons and Justice Initiative (PJI) and offer around two dozen Maryland prison inmates the chance to obtain a bachelor’s degree through a scholarship program. 

    The new program is an extension of the university’s Prison Scholars Program, which has offered non-degree programs at the DC jail since 2018.

    “We are excited to build upon the success of the Prison Scholars Program and provide an opportunity for students to earn a college degree while incarcerated,” PJI Director Marc Howard said in the release. “A degree from Georgetown and the interdisciplinary coursework behind it will prepare our graduates to reenter their communities and the workforce with pride in their academic achievements.”

    The program expansion was funded by a $1 million three-year grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, a private foundation that “seeks to build just communities where ideas and imagination can thrive.”

    Maryland inmates who have at least a high school or a GED diploma will be able to enroll in the program, which is expected to start in the next academic year. 

    The 25 inmates who enroll in the program will be able to study cultural humanities, interdisciplinary social science or global intellectual history.

    The degree will require 120 credit hours and will take about five years to complete. Students will also have access to Georgetown library resources, such as academic support, library, research assistance, career counseling and comprehensive reentry services.

    The program will allow inmates to continue to develop their skills so that they can attain “financial stability” and “socio-economic mobility” following their release.

    “After their release, many returning citizens struggle to find employment due to their criminal record, a lack of formal education, and large gaps in resumes. The Prison Scholars Program equips them to overcome these hurdles and creates a pathway to financial stability and socioeconomic mobility,” the press release explains.

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