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December 2017: Social Issues > Liberating Minds: The Case for College in Prison

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message 1: by anarresa (new)

anarresa | 279 comments Liberating Minds: The Case for College in Prison
By Ellen Condliffe Lagemann
2 stars

I think Lagemann can make a convincing case for providing a full liberal arts degree to interested prisoners, but this book was too long and disorganized to be effective. There were a few economic studies, some with conflicting results and she neither dived fully into the sampling and statistical minutiae nor covered just the broad stokes so the result was unclear and boring. A few graduates were interviewed, as well as their families, and that personal connection could have been powerful but the stories were edited and filtered so packed much less of an emotional punch. As an education professional Lagemann spent a lot of time on the specific academic program she works on, I simply could not summon enough interest in that detail. Prisoners who did not finish their degree or were not interested in the program, as well as the guards and prison administrators were for the most part ignored and I though that was a hole in the research and arguments. There was also no plan, even just an outline, of how the programs she covered could be expanded. There were a few mentions of the political and economic challenges, but no possible solutions.


message 2: by Jason (new)

Jason Oliver | 2063 comments The title sounds like it would be wonderful although I would argue, if getting in trouble gets you a free education then not getting in trouble should also provide a free education, but beyond that, I do believe in a strong reform program for prisoners. I hate the book did not live up to the title. Thank-you for the review so I know to steer clear. I am definitely a judge a book by its cover kind of guy.


message 3: by Amy (new)

Amy | 8849 comments Interestingly enough, I just had this very conversation, with a woman locally, who with some other of her church friends, does this very thing. As a group, they mentor incarcerated folks towards getting a degree. She says it's one of the most rewarding things she's ever done. She's on the board of her program, but feels this is important life work. Also sorry the book didn't live up to what it could have, but my friends experience sure does.


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