About Liberal Arts Beyond Bars (LABB)

In the Fall of 2017, University of Iowa educators volunteered to teach a one-evening short course in their discipline to a select group of students currently incarcerated at the Iowa Medical & Classification Center (Oakdale) in Coralville, IA for the UI Oakdale Speaker Series. For many students, this was their first exposure to higher education. For many educators, this was their first exposure to prison. Through this program, we aim to bring these learning communities together.  

In the Spring of 2018, LABB increased its course offerings to include two sections of the Speaker Series, one section of Yoga, and one section of Choir. All 100+ students will receive two UI credit hours per course through University College. We are excited to have you join us this semester as we continue to expand UI educational opportunities to incarcerated students.  

Research has shown that higher education programs in prisons can significantly reduce recidivism. While this is an important benefit, college-in-prison programs provide many more benefits in addition to reduced recidivism. Our project aims to provide opportunities that broaden horizons, develop students' agency and increased civic engagement, encourage social change from the inside out, strengthen bonds with families and communities, break family legacies of incarceration, inspire inquiry and transformation, and create pathways for successful reentry with dignity and compassion. We aim to create an infrastructure that can soon sustain accredited college coursework toward a degree. 

While the UI Center for Human Rights Prison Education Working Group began and houses this project, success would not be possible without the outstanding collaboration of the UI President's Office, the UI Office of Outreach & Engagement, the UI College of Education, the Iowa Department of Corrections, the Iowa Medical & Classification Center, and the Oakdale Inmate Council.