A College Education in Prison Opens Unexpected Path to Freedom
Vanessa Rancaño, KEQD
After serving 22 years in prison, Charlie Praphatananda knew there was one place he could get his bearings: California State University, Los Angeles. A year earlier, Praphatananda was serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole. He was also three years into a bachelor’s degree program—one of 42 men participating in an experiment that tests the limits of the public university mission to spread educational opportunity far and wide.
Cal State LA’s Prison Graduation Initiative is the state’s only public bachelor’s degree program sending professors to teach behind bars. College programs like it were once far more common, and today advocates are hopeful the political winds have shifted enough to bring public dollars back to prison education.