This book explores the discourse and rhetoric that resists and opposes postsecondary prison education. Positioning prison college programs as the best method to truly reduce recidivism, the book shows how the public – and by extension politicians – remain largely opposed to public funding for these programs, and how prisoners face internal resistance from their fellow inmates when pursuing higher education.

Utilizing methods including critical rhetorical history, media analysis, and autoethnography, the author explores and critiques the discourses which inhibit prison education. Cultural discourses, echoed through media portrayal of prisoners, produce criminals as both subhuman and always-already a threat to the public. This book highlights the history of rhetorical opposition to prison education; closely analyzes how convictism, prejudicial and discriminatory bias against prisoners, blocks education access and feeds the prison-industrial-complex an ever-recycled supply of free prison labor; and discusses the implications of prison education for understanding and contesting cultural discourses of criminality.

This book will be an important reference for scholars, graduate students, and upper-level undergraduates in the fields of Rhetoric, Criminal justice, and Sociology, as well as Media and Communication studies more generally, Politics, and Education studies.

chapter 1|18 pages

The Prison Classroom

chapter 2|20 pages

Kids before Cons?

chapter 3|17 pages

Shawshank Irredeemable

chapter 4|19 pages


chapter 5|14 pages

The X on Your Back