A group of graduates from Georgia’s class of 23 stands out as 9 inmates at Walker State Prison in Georgia received their associates degrees for 60 credit hours of coursework done while incarcerated. Organized by Georgia State University as part of their Prison Education Project, the courses included a variety of subjects such as environmental science, English, philosophy and ethics, and geology.
On May 5, Perimeter College graduated its first class of students who earned their degrees in general studies. According to the college, three graduated with GPAs above 3.9 and the rest were above 3.7. Georgia State University Perimeter College geology professor Polly Bouker began teaching the students in January 2022.
Her class included 12 people, the nine graduates and three others who started later, ranged in age from 35 to 61. “I’ve worked 23 years in higher education, and this has been my absolute top experience,” Bouker said. For most of the students in the program, the education they received is the first time they’ve earned a degree.
By 2025, GSU would like to offer the PEP associates degree in five other Georgia penitentiaries. Patrick Rodriguez, director of the PEP said 50 other students are already in the pipeline, something which he says will reduce the chances they will end up incarcerated again. Research links educational attainment with a lower recidivism rate.