Society for the Anthropology of North America
Oral Presentation Session
The notion that there is a school-to-prison pipeline has become part of our commonplace understanding of the social causes of mass incarceration. Far less attention, however, has been given to addressing the barriers that confront formerly incarcerated individuals when they try to pursue opportunities for post-secondary education “on the outside.” At my own institution, IUPUI, the obstacles that prospective students with felony convictions on their records faced in seeking admission are unjust and overwhelming. To explore and address this issue, students enrolled in a special topics Anthropology course in fall 2018, Cultures of Incarceration, organized a one-day conference that brought together community members, IUPUI staff and faculty, students and formerly incarcerated citizens in action sessions, to help develop strategies aimed at working to re-establish educational opportunities “behind the walls” and to facilitate better access to higher education after release. In this paper, I address both the conference and the campaign that followed which is aimed at easing access to Indiana University and its satellite campuses for prospective applicants who are attempting to re-enter society following a period or periods of imprisonment.