Our Mission Continues

“’What if we had a system in place that was ready to support people once they were released and had a plan to respond?’ The coronavirus outbreak, for all the damage it’s caused, is a chance to step back and evaluate the cracks left by the criminal justice system, and stop people from slipping through them.” –WIRED article

Thank you for your ongoing support of the Post-Prison Education Program.  We hope you and your family are safe and healthy.

In response to the recent development of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the Post-Prison Education Program is following the recommendations of the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and state and local authorities. Staff are working remotely and are accessible via email, phone, and remote meeting technologies (like Cisco Webex and Google Hangouts).

In the summer of 2005, a group of University of Washington faculty, administrators, and alums planted the seeds of the Post-Prison Education Program. We have gone on to serve imprisoned and formerly imprisoned people by offering the tools and human support they need to access higher education, find meaningful employment, break free from cycles of hopelessness, poverty, and imprisonment, and become leaders for change.

Fifteen years later, our Mission continues. We are committed to fighting and adapting to these challenging times. Please know that we stand together with you, current and former prisoners, allies, applicants to our Program, students, and families.  We will continue to stand up against mass incarceration and for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people’s rights to build the lives they want.  

The services we offer are key to the support prisoners and former prisoners depend on to survive and succeed. This is especially true as schooling moves online, in-person support networks dwindle,  and unemployment is the new normal. In the face of COVID-19, prisoners and former prisoners need help; Reentry is harder now-more than ever. That reentry requires more support and resources than our state has. No one should be left behind.  We will do everything we can to ensure they are not..

Be Safe!  Stay Healthy!  Continue!

Ari Kohn, President

On COVID-19 in Jails and Prisons

COVID-19 is bringing immediate clarity to the ways America’s jail and prison populations are forgotten and mistreated. Educating ourselves on what’s happening inside can help us be better advocates, activists, and society members. 

As of April 8, six Washington prisoners had tested positive for COVID-19. Hand sanitizer is treated as contraband. Soap, paper towels and toilet paper are often inaccessible. 40 percent of prisoners suffer from chronic health conditions like asthma, heart-related problems, diabetes, etc. And with visits currently banned, isolation is the norm. If nothing changes, combining these factors in an environment where it’s nearly impossible to distance yourself will make the prevention of the rapid spread of this epidemic nearly impossible. 

We need leaders to take action now to protect one of our nation’s most vulnerable populations by releasing prisoners already close to the end of their sentence, or with serious medical health conditions. Several states have already done so. Here’s a letter we sent  to Governor Jay Inslee, with the help of the Justice Collaborative, calling for immediate action. 

If you’re looking for ways you can help in addition to donating:

If you know someone currently incarcerated, you can send them this toolkit on how they can protect themselves. Sign this change.org petition, ACLU-WA petition, petition to the CDC demanding expanded access to healthcare in their correctional/detention facilities, and follow phone and email scripts here that implore Washington State’s Department of Corrections and Governor Inslee to take immediate action.

Also, follow us on twitter and instagram for live updates. We will do our best to keep updating this website accordingly.

Want to know more?

Buzzfeed, Letters from 2 Inmates

New Yorker, How Prisons and Jails can Respond

Mental Health and Addiction in the time of social distancing

Patch.com, Effort to release inmates at risk in Washington underway

If you have more questions about what you can do to help, want suggestions on more you can read about COVID-19 in jails and prisons, are looking for resources to help someone currently incarcerated, or more, please let us know. Visit our contact page or email directly hannah@postprisonedu.org.