I have to say, I’m at a bit of a crossroads here. I’m trying to figure out what I want to do in terms of my next book project. Right now, I am finishing up the revisions to Education Behind Bars. I have to turn it in to Sunbury Press, my publisher, in the near future. Then, I’ll spend a few weeks doing the finishing touches on Practice Electra, my debut novel. All of this should be done by the end of September. This brings me to planning my next project.

Right now I feel as if I’m being pulled in several directions. On the one hand, novels are easy. They don’t require a ton of research and they flow rather well. But novels aren’t socially important documents. Don’t get me wrong, they have a purpose and can fulfill some needs, but they aren’t something life changing. These days I’m focused upon changing lives and inspiring others. I guess that I want to produce something of real meaning, not mere entertainment value.

With this in mind, I’m pondering three primary ideas. They are as follows:

One: a text on the history of correctional education. This appeals to me greatly because no one has done a comprehensive text on the topic before…at least I don’t think so. By taking on this project, it would certainly give me and others perspective as to where American correctional education came from, its lifeline and the struggles involved, and where it is today. This could allow me, and other scholars, to better appreciate the struggles and history of prison education – prison educators too – and even show us what can be done to improve the current landscape of prison education programs. I guess this project could be summed up with a single word: “appreciation.”

Two: a text on notable criminologists, prison educators, and prisoner educators (prisoners who educate prisoners). This really interests me, too. Several come to mind, but much research would be needed. I can see this project divided into three parts: Part One, a tribute to prisoners who have gone on to become professors of criminology and transform the landscape and research on corrections. Part Two, a tribute to prison educators (staff) who have gone above and beyond in their duties to educate – and facilitate the education – of their incarcerated students. Part Three, a tribute to prisoner educators (prisoners) who have gone on to do amazing work, both in advocacy and instruction, for their fellow prisoners.

Three: a text which examines the several major flaws in American corrections and potential solutions to each problem. Though, I’m not exactly a Ph.D. So, my lack of academic credentials could be a problem here. Perhaps I should shelf this project until I complete a few other projects? This way I could gain more perspective on the issue and complete my degree. What are your thoughts?

Since you – the prison education community – read this blog, I want to hear from you! Let me know what direction you think I should go in. Share some ideas. Who knows, maybe you have an even better project in mind than I’ve thought of. I’d even be open to editing a book which contains submissions from a number of prison educators and prisoner educators (prisoners who educate). Any idea or support of an idea would be much appreciated.

About Christopher Zoukis, MBA

Christopher Zoukis, MBA, is the Managing Director of the Zoukis Consulting Group, a federal prison consultancy that assists attorneys, federal criminal defendants, and federal prisoners with prison preparation, in-prison matters, and reentry. His books include Directory of Federal Prisons (Middle Street Publishing, 2020), Federal Prison Handbook (Middle Street Publishing, 2017), Prison Education Guide (PLN Publishing, 2016), and College for Convicts: The Case for Higher Education in American Prisons (McFarland & Company, 2014).

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