Prison Teaching Initiative
Mission Statement The mission of Princeton’s Prison Teaching Initiative is to reduce incarceration rates, especially among poor and minority communities, in New Jersey by increasing access to outstanding post-secondary education. To this end, PTI provides credit-bearing college courses to inmates at two correctional facilities near Princeton’s campus. Courses in several disciplines are taught by volunteer instructors including Princeton faculty, staff, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, alumni, and advanced undergraduates. With a current prison population of 2.29 million people, the United States maintains the highest per capita and percentage incarceration rates in the world. Poor and minority communities are particularly affected by mass incarceration, with one in nine college-age African American men currently behind bars. The causes of this reality are complex, but a lack of access to high-quality education before, during, and after incarceration is a major contributing factor. PTI works to address this challenge by providing students with the education and skills necessary to lead productive, intellectually engaged lives while in prison and when they return to their home communities. PTI operates under a memorandum of understanding among the NJ Department of Corrections, Princeton University, and Mercer County Community College (MCCC), which accredits the courses. Together with other courses taught at the same correctional facilities by instructors from MCCC and The College of New Jersey, credits earned through PTI lead to an Associate of Arts degree. Credits earned for these courses can also be transferred to any college in the NJ state system, and in practice many inmates enrolled in PTI courses continue to pursue higher education after their release.