tcnj wordmark

Prison Program

prison5The Bonner Center co-directs the College’s new Prison Outreach and Education initiative, which has recently received substantial support from the Federal Second Chance Act, the New Jersey Department of Corrections and the Sunshine Lady Foundation. The initiative has a number of key components that aim to help more inmates turn their lives around via education and enrichment activities. A few are briefly described below.

Prison Magazine Project: A team of Bonner Community Scholars are further developing the writing skills of inmate students using a project driven model that is linked to the curriculum. Wagner students participate in a mini lesson and complete an assignment each week – these provide the raw material for a prison magazine that is produced twice a year.

College Courses: TCNJ professors teach college courses to eligible inmates as part of a deliberate attempt to help them make significant progress towards an Associates Degree. Some of these include TCNJ and Wagner students in the same class. Next semester, Wagner students will participate in one Criminal Justice and one Political Science course.

Enrichment Classes: TCNJ professors and volunteers teach non-credit enrichment courses. These might mirror the content found in a regular College class or be limited–like a recent one that included the students reading and having discussions about a classic novel.

Individual Tutoring: TCNJ volunteers visit high school and GED classes that run on a daily basis in the prison, where they provide individualized and small group instruction. The goal is to increase the number of inmates who pass the GED or receive a degree.

Capacity Building CEL Projects: Starting in the Spring, the Bonner Center will work with Wagner administrators to identify other upper level TCNJ courses that could complete projects on behalf of the facility. The goal is to provide opportunities for students in a range of disciplines – such as Education and Psychology – to learn while they build the capacity of the facility to meet its primary goals and objectives.

For more information about these programs, please contact the Bonner Center at or visit the program’s website. Celia Chazelle (Chair of the History Department) or Patrick Donohue (Director of the Bonner Center) are the co-directors.