Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate in the world with 1 in 86 adults in Louisiana incarcerated, including 1 in 14 black men. Currently, the 45,000 individuals incarcerated in Louisiana have very limited opportunities to access higher education.
Louisiana Prison Education Coalition (LPEC) seeks to meet this need by increasing access to current education programs and developing and implementing new higher education programs in each facility.
LPEC was founded in 2015 through a partnership between Voice of the Experienced (V.O.T.E.), Annie Freitas, Ph.D. student at Tulane University, and Rhiannon Dowling, Ph.D. student at U.C. Berkeley. Both Annie and Rhiannon have extensive experience in prison education and a desire to increase educational opportunities for people incarcerated in Louisiana.
LPEC serves as an organizing body to facilitate partnerships between prisons and universities in order to increase opportunities for education for everyone directly impacted by incarceration in Louisiana. In this capacity, we work closely with several organizations, as well as university representatives in order to encourage program development and implementation.
- Since 2015, we have increased our impact through partnerships with several organizations and universities that are committed to prison education.
- We are also, partnering with Operation Restoration to create a lab technician program for incarcerated women.
- Through a partnership with UBUNTU, LPEC is developing tutoring and mentor programs for incarcerated youth.
History of Voice of the Experienced (V.O.T.E.), our fiscal sponsor
V.O.T.E. began in 1987 in the form of a prison-based voter registration initiative launched by the Angola Special Civics Project, a group run by people in prison who had become legal experts at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. In 2003, several of the members were released from Angola, and formally established the organization in order to institutionalize and sustain their work to win voting rights for formerly incarcerated people, and to expand access to employment, housing, and healthcare for this population. V.O.T.E. subsequently expanded its work to educating formerly incarcerated people throughout New Orleans and the state of Louisiana about their rights, registering them to vote, and advocating for policy change to benefit and empower people who have been in prison.