The Washington University Prison Education Project (PEP) offers a college education to incarcerated students at the Missouri Eastern Correctional Center (MECC) in Pacific, Missouri, and the Women’s Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center (WERDCC) in Vandalia, Missouri. Established in 2014, PEP is a fully accredited degree program granting Associate in Arts and Bachelor of Science in Integrated Studies degrees. Prison staff are also eligible to earn degrees through University College.

PEP is one of three higher education in prison programs in the state of Missouri. Missouri has the 10th highest incarceration rate of all U.S. states (859 of 100,000 people). The state ranks higher than the U.S. in terms of incarceration rate (698 of 100,000 people). 52,000 people are incarcerated in Missouri (includes state and federal prisons, local jails, youth facilities, and involuntary confinement). 111,000 people in Missouri are either incarcerated or under criminal legal supervision (includes carceral facilities listed above plus probation and parole). Black Missourians are disproportionately incarcerated (39% incarcerated population compared to 12% total).

Prison Policy Initiative 2020 report on mass incarceration in the U.S.

Rehabilitation cannot exist without education.

Torey Adams, PEP graduate