A Story to Tell: The Importance of Education during Incarceration as Told by 22 Men and Women Who Know Firsthand

Gerard Robinson, host of In Character, is the editor of a collection of 22 personal essays written by men and women with criminal convictions whose lives were significantly improved by educational opportunities available to them during incarceration—be it an individual course, a GED, a vocational education, or a postsecondary degree program. The authors describe their experiences with education programs in US states including Arkansas, Indiana, Massachusetts, New York, and Virginia.

Published by the Advanced Studies in Culture Foundation, A Story to Tell includes a foreword by Ryan S. Olson, Director of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture. Robinson wrote the introduction and conclusion. He observes:

Access to educational programming is a critical part of criminal justice reform. Each author shares real-world examples of such themes as tragedy, triumph, hope, love, violence, and forgiveness. They articulate the unique role that participation in an education program during incarceration—and the teachers, administrators, counselors, and case workers who manage it—played in her or his reinvention process, whether inside or beyond prison walls.

About the authors of the essays:

  • Fifty percent are men and fifty percent are women.
  • Forty-one percent arrived at prison or jail without a high school diploma or GED.
  • Forty-five percent used a Pell Grant to pay for vocational and postsecondary courses during incarceration—including two students who used a Pell Grant to pay for courses prior to the 1994 ban.
  • Fifty-five percent used public, personal, and/or philanthropic funds to pay for education courses.
  • Sixty-four percent are people of color.


Download and read the stories here for free.