Our Mission

  • Offer high-quality liberal arts education to students in carceral institutions in Western North Carolina
  • Collaborate with community partners in developing resources to ensure those students’ educational success post-release
  • Design and deliver educational opportunities for children and families of justice-involved individuals
  • Advocate for education-related reform in criminal justice



A Note From the Director

September 2020

My name is Patrick Bahls. I have been a member of UNC Asheville’s Mathematics faculty for fifteen years and recently served an eight-year term as the Director of the University Honors Program. I took over as Director of the Prison Ed Program in July 2020, succeeding my colleague, the program’s founding director, Dr. Regine Criser. Dr. Criser’s hard work laid the groundwork for the program and her clear vision has helped us establish strong relationships with both the region’s criminal-justice-involved community and the staff of the prison where we do much of our work.

As a new semester begins, our students at AMCI prepare to take courses on personal finance and the mathematics behind great works of art. Our program’s staff ramps up efforts to “ban the box” on college applications. There is good, hard work ahead, and you’ll learn about it here as we take that work on. We hope that you will join us on our journey as our program grows in new directions. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at prisoneducation@unca.edu to learn more about our offerings and to find out how you might engage with our work.

Prison Education Program Director Patrick Bahls

Dr. Patrick Bahls


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The UNC Asheville Prison Education Program is funded through the Laughing Gull Foundation