Lancaster Prison Program

"Fundamentally, I believe every human being has the right to an education." - Prof Sarah Black

In 2016, the Department of Communication Studies at Cal State Los Angeles became the first department in California to hold classes inside a maximum-security prison facility, offering incarcerated students the opportunity to achieve a bachelor's degree in Communication Studies. In June 2019, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation gave Cal State LA a three-year grant to continue its bachelor’s program at Lancaster.

Cal State LA is one of 67 post-secondary institutions to participate in the Second Chance Pell Program, and the only one that offers a Communication BA. Classes are held at the California State Prison in Lancaster CA, with the first and second cohorts (as of this writing in August 2019) consisting of 42 students.

The Prison BA Program in Communication Studies is a collaborative campus partnership with the Center for Engagement, Service and the Public Good which also runs Project Rebound providing support to students after they are released from prison.

The Department of Communication Studies also publishes a Prison BA Journal, which provides incarcerated Cal State LA students in Lancaster Prison the opportunity to publish their academic work and a chance to have their research and writing seen by others in our field of study - including students, faculty, and researchers. We hope that by creating a dialogue through the publication of this journal we can better address the problem of mass incarceration.