Georgia State University Hails First Class of Inmate Graduates: ‘A degree to utilize when they come home’

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In caps, gowns, and perhaps even ‘blues,’ 9 inmates at Walker State Prison in Georgia are set to receive their associates degrees for 60 credit hours of coursework done while incarcerated.

3 are graduating with highest honors (3.9 – 4.0 GPA) while the other 6 are gradutaing with high honors (3.7 – 3.89).

Organized by Geogria 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.

The GSUPEP program began in 2016 and offers college courses at Walker State Prison and Phillips State in Buford and is currently offering enrichment courses at the federal U.S. Penitentiary in Atlanta.

By 2025, GSU would like to offer the PEP associates degree in five other Georgia penitentiaries.

“Not only have these students demonstrated that they are critical thinkers by completing a degree, but they’ve also shown tremendous character to seek education and follow it through to the end,” said President Blake. “The degree they rightfully earned can never be taken away.”

50 other students are already in the pipeline, something which Patrick Rodriguez, director of the PEP says will reduce the chances they will end up incarcerated again.

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