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Art exhibit explores impact of education on imprisoned men and women

February 9, 2016

In keeping with its mission to create and improve post-secondary education programs inside prisons, Huskies for Opportunities in Prison Education or HOPE developed I Cry Out: Reclaiming Identities Behind Bars—an exhibit on display at the UW School of Social Work Gallery (first floor) from Feb.,16 to June 1, 2016. The poems, letters and visual art created by the prisoners for this exhibit illustrate the humanity and spirit for renewal of each incarcerated participant. The multi-media exhibit allows us to gain insight into what life is like behind bars and how it is altered with access to education.

A reception, also open to the public, is scheduled for Wed., March 2, from 4 to 6 p.m.

HOPE comprises a group of UW students devoted to creating and improving post-secondary education programs inside prisons. The organization supports the education of prisoners in an effort to focus on rehabilitation rather than retribution. HOPE advocates for learning behind bars as an effective opportunity for prisoners, who leave the prison system with social, legal and economic handicaps, to successfully reintegrate into society. And the data supports this strategy:

  • 35 percent of prisoners released from Washington state prisons return to prison within 3 years. Graduating from a college program decreases recidivism by 72 percent.
  • A 2009 report ordered by Washington state legislature found that for every $5,000 invested in education, $20,000 is saved from fewer costly incarcerations and use of social services.

The group raises funds and materials for education efforts and runs public events to communicate prison issues to a wider audience. HOPE established the Academic Resource Center at Monroe Correctional Center, created a scholarship, and hosts an annual panel of formerly incarcerated individuals to highlight success stories.

For more information about the exhibit, contact May Lim by email or by calling 509-270-8600.