PrisonEducation.com News Update

By Christopher Zoukis

It is with great pleasure that I share with you -- the Prison Education News readers -- some recent developments in our prison education advocacy efforts.  This news concerns several long-term projects that we have been working on behind the scenes and several new projects that we are preparing to engage in.  It has been some time since I have provided such an update, so please allow me to update you sufficiently.

Surprise: "College for Convicts" To Be Published By McFarland! 

The big news of the month concerns my College for Convicts manuscript.  Several months ago I announced that Middle Street Publishing -- the same nonprofit which owns and operates PrisonEducation.com and PrisonLawBlog.com -- had acquired the rights to my latest prison education text College for Convicts: The Case for a Safer, More Prosperous Country.  Well, it appears as if I spoke too soon.  Several weeks ago McFarland and Company -- a very large nonfiction publisher located in North Carolina -- approached us concerning this very text.  After several weeks of discussions and negotiations, we've come to an agreement.  McFarland and Company will be publishing College for Convicts!  We are currently in the process of signing the contracts and making the requested revisions.  Image courtesy mcfarlandbooks.com

We're thrilled with this news because McFarland and Company has a significantly larger reach than we do, and they will be able to put College for Convicts into the hands of academics, public policy makers, and libraries the world over.  Their expert backing will allow the College for Convicts project to reach much greater heights and will ensure enhanced staying power.  This is truly a win for the prison education lobby and incarcerated students everywhere.

New Literary Representation

The next piece of big news concerns not prison education itself, but my work as an advocate for prison education and prisoners’ rights.  After months of discussions, the Salkind Literary Agency has agreed to represent all of my future nonfiction work.  The agent in charge of my work is Greg Aunapu, a top agent in the New York area.  With Mr. Aunapu's well-experienced, expert literary representation, I am confident that my prison-focused nonfiction projects will find homes with top U.S. publishing houses.  This is a big win for both myself and for the prison writing and prison education movements.

Pell Grants for Prisoners e-Book

As those in the prison education industry will readily acknowledge, the drive toward reinstating prisoner eligibility for Pell grants has been slowly gaining steam and momentum these last several months.  Now, a week doesn't go by that I don't read an article which advocates for Pell grants to yet again fund in-prison education programs.  Clearly there is some interest behind this movement -- both from the prison education lobby and from political sorts in general -- but what there isn't is a central guide to reinstating prisoner Pell grant eligibility.  This we at PrisonEducation.com aim to remedy.

Come the first of the year, I will be starting my research concerning Pell grants for prisoners with the goal of writing a shorter e-book which helps to present the current research and a path to reversing the ban on prisoner eligibility.  My plan will be to produce a projected 15,000 word e-book which will explain the history of Pell grant funding for in-prison educational programs, the history of the ban on prisoner Pell grants, the effectiveness of correctional education programming, and end with a call to action which details exactly how we, as a united prison education community, can effectively and meaningfully demand that prisoners again become eligible for federal, need-based financial aid.  While I don't yet have a projected completion date, I will be keeping you abreast of my progress through regular posts at Prison Education News.  Upon completion of this project, Middle Street Publishing will be publishing the e-book and PrisonEducation.com will be publishing select excerpts here at Prison Education News.

New Partnership: Great Leap Studios

We at PrisonEducation.com are pleased to announce a new partnership with Micah Abraham at Great Leap Studios (www.GreatLeapStudios.com).  Micah is going to be heading up a new division for Middle Street Publishing.  This new division will focus on our content development strategy and Search Engine Optimization efforts.  Specifically, Micah at Great Leap Studios is going to help us not only expand our digital footprint -- by optimizing our websites for search engine visibility -- but he is also going to help us anticipate your needs.  This anticipation will include new, informational pages on PrisonEducation.com, more meaningful connections to the prison education community, and a more effective and efficient method of content dissemination.  We are very pleased to announce this and we are excited for you, our readers, since it is you who will benefit the most from this new partnership with Great Leap Studios.  I am confident that this new partnership will pay dividends to the prison education community.

Outreach Directly to Federal Prisoners

As already publicized here at Prison Education News, we have started a new project.  This is our free Prison Law & Prison Education News Update Service.  This service is essentially an extension of the blogs at PrisonEducation.com and PrisonLawBlog.com.  Now, three times a week, we syndicate the most important blog posts to our network of over 350 incarcerated Corrlinks.com/TRULINCS subscribers.  This enables us to not merely advocate for prisoners’ rights and prison education, but to help make prisoners a part of our work.  This we feel to be very important to the cause.  Come January, our first advertisements will run in "Prison Legal News," the premier prisoner publication, which reaches several thousand prisoners across the country.  We anticipate our subscriber numbers will jump significantly following the first instance of this ongoing ad.  We'll keep you posted as to our subscriber numbers and the successes we realize with this free news service for prisoners.  All prisoners have to do is add news@prisonlawblog.com to their contacts list in order to receive these free news updates.  They can use the following mailing address:

Prison Law News Update Service

Editor

3900 Pelandale Ave.

Box 319

Modesto, CA  95356

A Bright, Bright Future for PrisonEducation.com

With the McFarland and Company book contract for College for Convicts, the new literary representation by Greg Aunapu at the Salkind Literary Agency, the Pell grants for prisoners e-book, the new partnership with Great Leap Studios, and the popular prisoner-specific Prison Law & Prison Education News Update Service, 2014 is looking to be quite a year for PrisonEducation.com, PrisonLawBlog.com, and Middle Street Publishing.  We have big plans which we feel will greatly expand and enhance our advocacy efforts in a real, tangible, and meaningful manner.  These projects, partnerships, and representations should see PrisonEducation.com continue to grow into its role as the voice of the prison education community, enhancing not only our own visibility, but projecting the prison education community's impact that much further, creating meaningful change in our lives, the lives of our incarcerated students, and in the lives of American citizens all over the country.  I can't wait for you to join us in this magnificent adventure.

As always, I welcome your comments, critiques, ideas, and anything else you might want to share.  I'm always open to new ideas and to project suggestions.  All you have to do is place a comment below or email us and we can start a dialogue.