New Director for Women's Prison Education Program

February 7, 2023

The Women’s College Partnership (WCP) is a liberal arts program providing college degrees to women at the Indiana Women’s Prison. In partnership with Marian University, it is a part of the larger Notre Dame Programs for Education in Prison (NDPEP) housed at the Center for Social Concerns. This February, WCP welcomed a new program director, Justin McDevitt, JD, MA. In this role, McDevitt will partner with staff at Marian University to coordinate operations of the program in Indianapolis including recruitment and admission of students, faculty relationships, and program experience. 

McDevitt enters the role after several years of work in the prison system. As a law student, he volunteered at the juvenile detention center in Cook County. After completing his law degree at Notre Dame, he taught classes and worked as the  assistant director for reentry with the Moreau College Initiative (MCI), another program in the NDPEP network at Westville Correctional Facility. The move to WCP will be both exciting and bittersweet for McDevitt. “After 5 years it will be hard to leave working at Westville and the people there. Helping people prepare for the outside and then meeting them on the outside is one of the most memorable parts of my work there.” 

WCP started in 2019 with just 16 enrolled students and has grown to 45 during the 2022–23 academic year. It has conferred 15 associate degrees. The program fills an important niche in education in prison. McDevitt noted that while the number of incarcerated women is lower than that of men, their numbers are increasing and educational opportunities are lagging behind despite their benefits. “Education for incarcerated is one of the most powerful interventions to prevent recidivism,” said McDevitt also has a book on prison education, Hard Teaching in Hard Times: Education in Prison in a Global Context, scheduled to be published later this year. Students are also eager for such opportunities. “The students that I met at WCP on the first day were so excited and hungry to have the chance to grow into the women that they want to be,” McDevitt said. 

In addition to NDPEP, the center hosts a lecture series on the criminal justice system, Unlocked: Understanding Mass Incarceration and will also welcome The Atlantic staff writer, Liz Bruenig, for a talk on the death penalty on February 17. Learn more NDPEP and this series of events at

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Canceled: Social Concerns Fair | Immigration and Human Rights
Monday, April 3, 2023 - 4:30pm to 6:30pm
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Alumni Book Club | Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver
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