Drew University is a New Jersey-based theological school that nurtures Christian partnerships and has become active in prisons. Recalling PEW research that states “1 in every 100 persons in the USA is incarcerated,” the founders of the program believe that incarcerated individuals are members of our communities and that it is an issue that must be embraced whole-heartedly. To that end, Drew launched the Partnership for Religion and Education in Prisons (PREP) to work with prison populations and also provide pastoral and teaching experience for its theological students.
PREP is based on a prison education model begun in Nashville, Tennessee in 2002, but also incorporates elements of other well-known prison programs in its design. According to Drew University, the initiative, PREP “creates opportunities for a joint theological learning environment between theological students and students within State correctional facilities.” The foundation of the program rests upon meaningful academic dialogue fostered by religious overtones. Practicing ministers engage a diverse population of students; the aim of the program is to help reduce recidivism as well as to help people transform their lives, to find purpose, and to reshape their experience into a brighter path–one leading away from prison and the behaviors that led them there.