Driven by Merrimack College’s Augustinian mission, the Jail Education Project (JEP) is a degree and certificate-bearing program that seeks to build community connections while addressing inequities in higher education. It provides college coursework in jails and pre-release centers in Essex, Middlesex, & Suffolk Counties and supports students pursuing a degree at Merrimack upon release.
The Jail Education Project provides a number of teaching and learning opportunities to incarcerated students, matriculated students and faculty, including:
At the Essex County Correctional Facility and the Middlesex House of Correction, Merrimack College faculty teach four-credit introductory and general education courses that can be easily transferred to a degree program. These courses are the same as those taught on campus but are on a condensed, eight-week schedule to accommodate high turnover and to allow students to complete as many classes as possible.
Merrimack College students from all majors have the opportunity to work as teaching assistants (TAs) for faculty teaching at the jails. TA OPPORTUNITIES
In the summer of 2021, we are offering a new program that aims to bridge the gap between education during incarceration and the pursuit of a degree. THE BRIDGE PROGRAM INFO
While most higher education in prison programs occur in state prisons, where people serve longer sentences and can finish more coursework, the Jail Education Project has developed an educational model that addresses the unique challenges of short-term incarceration in county jails.
Fall 2017: The Merrimack College Jail Education Project started as a small endeavor, offering one course per semester in criminology or creative writing at Essex County Correctional Facility in Middleton, Massachusetts.
Fall 2019: The Jail Education Project expanded to the Middlesex House of Correction in Billerica, Massachusetts.
Academic Year 2019-2020: The Project was slated to offer twelve courses in multiple disciplines. Due to COVID-19, we offered five courses.
Academic Year 2020-2021: We are offering four hybrid courses.
Summer 2021: We are piloting The Bridge Program for formerly incarcerated students.
High turnover creates many opportunities to intervene in people’s lives, jails house members of our own communities, &students often return to homes nearby, where JEP can continue to offer support.
JEP is currently offering 4-credit courses at:
Essex County Correctional Facility Essex County Men’s Pre-Release Center Middlesex House of Correction Middlesex Women’s Pre-Release Center & Suffolk County House of Correction
Gain unique experiential learning opportunity as both an undergraduate and graduate student, or earn college credit and internships to work with faculty members teaching incarcerated students.