Author: postprisonedu

Hear more from Pete about what you will learn from the “Biggest Lie Ever Told” on October 9th

Post-Prison Education Program asked Pete Earley for six take-away points you will gain from the October 9th Town Hall. Here are a few of those points :

1. What sort of seriously mentally ill individuals are ending up in our jails and prisons, which have become the largest caretakers of individuals with serious mental illnesses.

2. Why jails and prisons are inappropriate places for persons with serious mental illnesses who have committed crimes directly linked to those illnesses.

3. How progressive cities, including Seattle, have created jail diversion and other successful programs to divert sick persons out of incarceration and into treatment, saving tax dollars and reducing unnecessary incarceration. Newest concepts being put into action.

4. While successful, Seattle and other communities should have as their goals zero intercept between people who are sick and the criminal justice system. No one should have to be arrested to get help.

Innovative steps being taken to achieve zero intercept :

1. Federal efforts to provide help to those caught in the criminal justice system by changing federal payments to communities.

2. Tips on how you can help a loved one with a mental illness and a call for advocacy in your community.This will be explained by example and specifics, including the story of the author’s son, who ended up being arrested, tasered by police, incarcerated and finally recovered and is thriving.

See the newsletter!

This is why you need to be at Town Hall October 9th
How did we get to this point? 
What compelled us to reach out to Pete Earley asking him to fly in from Washington, D.C. to Key Note a Town Hall discussion the evening of October 9th? It was meeting a prisoner in 2010 who over the course of 10 imprisonments has spent 25 years in prison – not because he is a criminal, but because he comes from poverty and suffers serious mental illness.Each month, the state of Washington releases approximately 700 people from its prisons. These men and women seek a productive life on the outside. 

Yet, within three years, more than one-third wind up back in prison with one or more new felony convictions.
State policymakers, concerned about this cycle, have commissioned studies, convened task forces, and introduced legislation aimed at preventing people from reoffending. Nevertheless, the recidivism rate hasn’t gotten any better over the last decade, in fact, continues to increase dramatically.

Since 2005, the Post-Prison Education Program has changed the odds. 
Three-quarters of our students have been classified as high-risk by the corrections system — the category deemed most likely to recidivate. 48% of our high-risk students suffer serious mental illness. Nonetheless, of the students we have served, according to data audited by researchers from the University of Washington | Tacoma, only 8% have recidivated — a rate one-quarter of Washington State’s average.
Prison wasn’t the solution. It never is, and it never will be. When people who have long suffered serious mental illness leave prison and land in a well-knit safety net, they can build lives worth living for themselves, their families, and our communities.

Please join the Post-Prison Education Program, Pete Earley, and a distinguished panel at Town Hall Seattle Wednesday, October 9th to discuss problems and solutions and to pave the way for people to build lives worth living rather than spend their lives rotting in jails and prisons. 

Ari KohnFounder and PresidentPost-Prison Education Program

Pete Earley is a former Washington Post journalist and bestselling author. His book, “Crazy,” a Pulitzer Prize finalist, tells the story of Earley’s son, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and arrested during a manic episode. Earley put his investigative journalist skills to the test over the next five years, and uncovered a prison system ill-equipped to properly treat mental illness and quick to criminalize.

Pete Earley will speak on a panel at Seattle’s Town Hall on Wednesday, October 9th, at 7:30 PM, in conjunction with the Post Prison Education Program. Tickets can be purchased here.


Pete Earley, former Washington Post reporter, mental health advocate and bestselling author of “Crazy” and “The Hot House: Life Inside Leavenworth Prison” will be joining Ari Kohn, founder and president of the Post-Prison Education Program and will educate and encourage you to learn more about the impact of mental illness on prisoners, those formerly incarcerated and highlight many personal battles in the criminal justice system. Show your support for reforming how prisoners are reintegrated into society and help raise awareness of this critical issue.

More about the Post-Prison Education Program:
The Program offers hope and create opportunity for men and women returning to society from prison by providing wraparound services centered on post-secondary education. Students are offered the tools and human support needed to find gainful, meaningful employment, and break free from cycles of hopelessness, inter-generational poverty and imprisonment, and to become leaders for change.We believe that recidivism is a solvable problem and the rate can be virtually zero. We hope to clarify why our organizations methods work instead of current mainstream public policy.

We must seek clarity, justice, and change for those engulfed in a worldwide silent epidemic: mental illness.

Ari Kohn runs the Post-Prison Education Program, which provides scholarships to former inmates and community mentorship while they earn degrees.

Their graduates have a recidivism rate of only 7.8%, compared to the Department of Correction’s average of 33.5%.

Recently, Facebook miscategorized the group as a political organization, preventing them from advertising one of their fundraising events on the platform. The mistake took months for Kohn to undo, and brings up questions about how Facebook has been watching for Russian interference since the 2016 election. How are stringent standards without seemingly much oversight affecting us on a community level?

Mission Statement:  The Post-Prison Education Program offers hope and creates opportunity for people returning to society by providing access to higher education. Imprisoned and formerly imprisoned people are offered the tools and human support they need to find gainful, meaningful employment, and break free from cycles of hopelessness, poverty, and imprisonment and become leaders for change.


In Washington State alone, over 8,200 prisoners are released into the community every year. Prisoners are released with little or no support, $40, medication to last two weeks (if suffering from mental illness) and one set of clothing. They have often accrued significant debt (Legal Financial Obligations); have the stigma of incarceration; are under educated and barred from employment opportunities, thus remaining in a cycle of inter-generational poverty, debt, and homelessness. It is for these reasons that 43% return to prison within the first five years with one or more new felony convictions. In 2008, of the 28,671 former prisoners actively supervised on probation, 3,867 were known to be homeless. The incarceration cost of one individual is $36,000 per year. However, the actual cost including arrest, prosecution, court fees, attorney fees, etc. total more than $500,000 of taxpayer money per person. The Post-Prison Education Program has proven that for $6,700 per person per annum, one can meet the legitimate needs of former prisoners, which is a significantly more cost-effective method of reducing recidivism, increasing public safety and curbing high costs to society.


of the Post-Prison Education Program is to dramatically reduce recidivism by harnessing the power of education and meeting the legitimate needs of former prisoners. Education opens the door to a living wage, clean and sober housing, empowered and responsible living and strengthened families—the most important factors in breaking the inter-generational cycle of poverty and crime, thereby increasing community safety. The Post-Prison Education Program provides access to education and unwavering support through wrap around services including tuition, housing, groceries, daycare and intensive mentoring. The Program’s innovative approach provides extensive outreach in prisons and intensive support post-release.

OUR SOLUTION- the Post Prison Education Program

Studies show that two years of post-secondary education reduces the rate of recidivism by more than 50%. Through an Outcome Data analysis, University of Washington researchers determined the Program’s rate of recidivism to be .018 since its inception in 2006. Our less than 2% rate of recidivism is a testament to our proven methods. The Program only admits individuals who are at significant risk of recidivating based on their extensive prison sentences. The Post-Prison Education Program fights to create hope where there is none through inspiring presentations inside prisons and intensive support upon release. The Program mentors and guides students and their families to gain access to resources and to become sustainable and contributing members of society. Furthermore, our students tutor, mentor and volunteer to help others succeed in breaking the cycle of incarceration and create safer communities. The Program accomplishes its goals by meeting the legitimate frugal needs of former prisoners simultaneous to linking them with post-secondary education, building meaningful mentorship relationships, and delivering consequential support services whether they are housing, legal representation, mental health counseling, or tutoring. We accomplish these goals by spending only a fraction of the costs of prosecution and incarceration. The Program’s success not only dramatically reduces recidivism and increases public safety, but also ensures that students have stable jobs, strong families, and productive lives.