The New Jersey Scholarship and Transformative Education in Prisons Consortium (NJ-STEP) is an association of higher education institutions in New Jersey that works in partnership with the Department of Corrections and State Parole Board, (a) to provide higher education courses for students while they are incarcerated, and (b) to assist in their transition to college life upon release from prison.
NJ-STEP was selected as a pilot site for the Pathways Project managed by the Vera Institute of Justice. The vision of NJ-STEP is that every person in a New Jersey state prison who qualifies for college will have the opportunity to earn college credits toward the degree while incarcerated and will obtain support in continuing their education upon release.
A host of studies investigating prison education demonstrate that sophisticated programmatic interventions like that of NJ-STEP is one of the best ways to reduce recidivism. While broadening educational access is a valuable pursuit unto itself, evidence suggests expanding the opportunities for prison and reentry higher education reduces the rate of correctional failure, increases public safety, and in the long run minimizes the immediate and collateral costs of incaceration.