AAUW Legal Advocacy Fund honors project educating women in prison
November 20, 2006
DEARBORN / Nov. 20, 2006---The American Association of University Women’s Legal Advocacy Fund has honored University of Michigan-Dearborn faculty and students teaching in a local prison with the group’s 2006 Progress in Equity Award.
Directed by sociology Prof. Lora Lempert, the program brings college-level courses into the Scott Correctional Facility for Women in Plymouth, offering university-certified classes in subjects like women’s studies, composition, sociology, African American studies and other subjects. All of the courses are taught by UM-Dearborn professors on a volunteer basis.
Lempert accepted the award during a ceremony at the campus’s Fairlane Center on Nov. 16. As part of the award, the college classes program will receive $5,000 from AAUW.
“We are honored to recognize this innovative program,” said Barbara O’Connor, AAUW Educational Foundation president. “We continue to be impressed by the important work it does to advance women’s educational opportunities in a critically underserved population.”
The program gives female prisoners hope to overcome life’s obstacles, and compels the community to challenge conventional stereotypes about women in prison, according to Lempert.
“Women who receive a college education or begin the degree process while in prison fare better when they rejoin society than those who do not,” Lempert said. “College builds a context for transformation and responsibility that the women take with them as they leave the facility.”
The Progress in Equity Award recognizes a college or university program that promotes equity for women. Since 1987, the AAUW Legal Advocacy Fund has recognized more than 38 programs throughout the country for progressive and innovative advancements on behalf of women.
“When the Michigan legislature made it illegal to use tax dollars for inmate college tuition, this enterprising group of volunteers stepped in to fill a critical need and give a second chance to women in prison,” said Lisa Maatz, interim director of the AAUW Legal Advocacy Fund.