Washington University’s Prison Education Project is unique in Missouri in its offering of both college-level courses (and co-curricular programming) and reentry case management for our students that extends beyond release. PEP’s reentry support actively incorporates students’ educational training in its advocacy and centers students’ educational priorities (e.g., graduate school, law school, etc.) in its programming and support.
The PEP Reentry/Alumni Program has developed a reentry curriculum that will deliver workshops on job readiness, employment, housing, financial literacy, health (including mental health), and technology for students at both the Missouri Eastern Correctional Center (MECC) and the Women’s Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center (WERDCC). These curricula were developed by a volunteer team of trained social workers and direct practitioners.
Jami Ake is currently PEP’s Reentry Coordinator. Dr. Ake holds an MSW from Washington University’s Brown School of Social Work (and a Ph.D. in English from Indiana University) and has worked with PEP since its founding as an instructor, advisor, and tutor. As a Washington University faculty member, she is experienced with building, implementing, and evaluating evidence-based curriculum. She is also a trained trauma-informed crisis intervention advocate.
The PEP Reentry/Alumni program recently hired two new positions, a reentry advocate and an alumni coordinator, to offer reentry support to students enrolled in PEP’s academic programs. Denis Shine is the PEP reentry advocate. Denis works individually with currently and formerly incarcerated PEP students to develop and support their personalized reentry plans. He will also work with students’ internal case managers and parole officers and, after release, with the community parole officers in developing and supporting reentry plans. Denis collaborates regularly with the PEP alumni coordinator to provide resources and support to the PEP alumni peer network.
Jim Brock was hired in April 2021 as the PEP alumni coordinator. Jim is an alumnus of the Washington University Prison Education Project; he graduated with his Bachelor of Science in Integrated Studies in May 2021. In his role, Jim serves as a primary support person and contact for PEP alumni as they transition back to the St. Louis community. Jim builds and supports the alumni network, including facilitating weekly alumni program peer meetings and, in collaboration with the PEP reentry advocate, identifies resources and opportunities to benefit alumni. Jim has already made several valuable landlord and employer connections to facilitate housing and employment for PEP alumni.