Land to transform the prison into a college


A former Wisconsin governor who oversaw the expansion of the state’s prison system now wants to turn a prison into a college.

Tommy Thompson, now the interim president of the University of Wisconsin system, wants to start with a class of 315 inmates, according to Wisconsin Public Radio. He estimates that the project, called the UW System Prison Education Initiative, will cost around $ 5 million to get started. Thompson is working hard to secure funding, he told WPR, but he also expects inmates to repay money in the form of student loans.

He will present the idea to the System’s Board of Regents this week, along with his first budget proposal as interim president. Thompson is asking for $ 95.7 million, about 3.5 percent more than the last proposed budget.

The penitentiary initiative would also include technical and private colleges, businesses and the Wisconsin Department of Corrections, he told WPR.

Research has shown that leaving incarcerated people to continue their education in prison decreases recidivism rates. The University of Wisconsin at Madison has a program called Odyssey Beyond Bars, which offers credited and uncredited liberal arts classes to state prisoners.

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