Auburn University officials invited to White House to discuss higher education's role in justice system reform

Published: May 03, 2016
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Auburn University officials will travel to the White House this week to participate in an invitational roundtable on criminal justice reform and the role of higher education.

Kyes Stevens, the founder and director of the Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project in the College of Human Sciences at Auburn, and Provost Timothy Boosinger will join a select group of prison higher education directors and provosts from colleges and universities around the nation to explore the role of higher education and the myriad challenges facing the current criminal justice system.

"This is an incredible opportunity to share the academic goals of Auburn University and the Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project with the current administration," said Stevens. "The voices that will join at this table are long-established and successful models from around the nation, and we all welcome the opportunity to inform the national dialogue about higher education needs in prisons in the U.S."

Since 2002, the Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project has grown to offer college-level courses in 10 prisons in Alabama, working with both men's and women's facilities to gain access to quality and sustained academic programming. It has served more than 2,400 students with more than 240 semester-length classes in the arts, humanities, human sciences and STEM, or science, technology, engineering and mathematics, since its inception.

"This program supports educational opportunities for a specific community of the state," said Boosinger. "It also provides Auburn faculty, students and staff the opportunity to better understand the challenges facing the state of Alabama."

The Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project is funded by grants, including a recent $120,000 grant from the Laughing Gull Foundation to support STEM classes.