The Washington University Prison Education Project (PEP) was established when a group of faculty who were interested in teaching college courses in prison began meeting in 2011. In 2014, they secured funding from the Consortium for the Liberal Arts in Prison and began teaching for-credit, college-level classes at the Missouri Eastern Correctional Center (MECC) in Pacific, Missouri. In 2015, the Office of the Provost at Washington University also provided funding for PEP. In addition to offering courses for incarcerated students, PEP also offers courses for correctional staff.
Who Do We Serve?
Since 2014, we have offered college courses for students at the Missouri Eastern Correctional Center (MECC), a medium-security men’s prison in Pacific, Missouri. Thanks to a two-year grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, we began offering college courses at the Women’s Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center (WERDCC) in Vandalia, Missouri, in Spring 2022. WERDCC is one of only two women’s prisons in the state of Missouri and the first to host a college-in-prison program.
Students in PEP undergo a rigorous application process, which involves an application, essay exam, and interview. We currently have around 60 students enrolled in our program. Our students come from a wide range of educational backgrounds and diverse life experiences.
We also provide free college courses for correctional staff at MECC and WERDCC.
Missouri Eastern Correctional Center (MECC)
18701 Historic Route 66, Pacific, MO 63069
Phone: (636) 257-3322
Women’s Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center (WERDCC)
101 US-54, Vandalia, MO 63382
Phone: (573) 594-6686
“PEP is a vanguard program that is doing exactly what universities were meant to do – to spread access to knowledge in the service of the public good. I look forward to many more years of teaching with the PEP and encourage others from both within and outside the university to join in supporting the project.”
– Bret Gustafson, Department of Anthropology
The Washington University Prison Education Project would not be able to function day-to-day without the generous contributions of time, finances, and input of organizations on the Washington University campus and across the Washington University and St. Louis community.