Liberal-Arts Colleges Reach Minds Behind Bars

How to Teach the Liberal Arts Behind Bars 1

Daniel Johnson for The Chronicle

John Hammers left prison with a semester's worth of credits in hand from Grinnell College, and a sense of direction.

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Daniel Johnson for The Chronicle

John Hammers left prison with a semester's worth of credits in hand from Grinnell College, and a sense of direction.

John Hammers spent the past 12 years behind bars. His daily routine consisted mostly of playing pinochle or spades and watching sitcoms on television. Serving time for burglary, he wanted to better himself, but he had no outlet.

Although he was a GED tutor, opportunities to focus on his own education were scarce. He held a job in the library at the Newton Correctional Facility, a medium-security prison in central Iowa with more than 1,100 inmates. The job paid 45 cents an