COABE Journal - Prison Literacy Edition

This themed edition of the COABE Journal highlights educational programs, approaches, and professionals who work with adults currently serving or who have served time in correctional settings.

Kristen Antoine-Morse
Margaret Patterson, Ph.D.
Darrell Bingham
Jeffery D. Hendricks
Mark VanVoorhis
Darrell Miller, D.B.A.
David R. Finston
Julia Ruiz
Author(s) Organizational Affiliation
B.E.L.O.V.E.D. Community
Allies for Lifelong Learning
State of Utah, Department of Human Services, Division of Juvenile Justice Service
Nebo School District
Howard R. Young Correctional Institution
New Mexico State University
Publication Year
Resource Type
Informational Material
Number of Pages

The Prison Literacy edition of the COABE Journal highlights educational programs, approaches, and professionals who work with adults currently serving or who have served time in correctional settings. These contributions are intended to generate ideas for effectively providing quality and relevant learning opportunities to those who are “behind the walls” and help them improve their experiences once they transition to life “outside the walls.” The issue features the following sections and articles:


  • Prison to School to Redemption
  • Incarcerated Adults with Low Skills: Findings from the 2014 PIAAC Prison Study Practitioner Perspective
  • Less Rigor, More Vigor; the Rigor Will Come Through the Adaptive Process
  • Employer Reservation and Ex-Offender Employment Opportunities

Practitioner Perspective

  • J.U.M.P. Jail Understanding Mathematics Project
  • Pathway to Success: Creating Individualized Career Pathways for Inmates and Reentrants
  • Training Parishioners to Minister More Effectively to Ex-Offenders
  • The Importance of Fiction and Storytelling in a Prison Classroom
  • Creating Opportunity in Prison Education: Interns & Tutors
  • The Minnesota Standard Adult Diploma: Hope and Opportunity for Inmates
  • Release Package—A Tool to Reduce Recidivism?
  • Professional Learning Communities in Prisons
  • MicroNovels: An Elegantly Simple Approach to Strengthening Literacy


  • Growth Mindset vs. Fixed Mindset in Correctional Adult Education Setting
  • Educators Behind Bars
  • A Right to Learn: Earning a Degree with a Criminal Conviction
  • Why Aren’t We Spending More on Prisoner Education?
What the experts say

This special edition of the COABE Journal on prison literacy is a rich resource for adult educators. Each of the 17 articles directly addresses one or more issues faced by incarcerated adults with recommendations on how these issues can be addressed. The articles are practitioner focused, easy to read, and provide down to earth recommendations.

Some of the articles will be of interest to adult educators in any setting (e.g. the piece on Micro novels); while others are particular to prison contexts and constraints, including one of the reflection pieces that draws on consideration of the history of adult learning and policy for incarcerated people. Other articles offer unhelpful views of adult incarcerated learners and some address transitions from inside to beyond prison walls.

The pieces that draw on data and demographics will be useful to policy makers and administrators. Pieces addressing math instruction, use of literature, and pre-employment training will be of interest to instructors. A study circle or guided reflection through some of the pieces might be helpful in supporting educators make connections between their own practice/contexts and those described here could be useful. There are, however, some pieces that do disservice to the adults attempting to learn and survive in prisons. The reflection and perspective pieces are somewhat uneven.  

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