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

Spring 2020

Though we were set back by a month by the ongoing pandemic, the last few weeks have seen the start of our spring semester of courses at the Avery-Mitchell Correctional Institution. Our eight students have begun work in ECON 103: Introductory Economic Analysis and HUM 324: The Modern World. They’ll also take part in their first extracurricular educational opportunity since the start of the pandemic, a guided reading of Tara Westover’s book Educated: A Memoir. By the semester’s end, our students will have completed 41 credit hours of work.

Meanwhile, we welcome two new members to our Advisory Board, both of whom hold leadership positions at nearby higher educational institutions. Dr. Gene Loflin, Asheville-Buncombe Technical College’s associate vice president for instructional services, brings decades of experience with higher ed in prison. Dr. Rita Earley, Mayland Community College’s vice president of instruction and workforce development, supervises her institution’s work at Avery-Mitchell, located less than a mile from her home campus. We look forward to working with Dr. Loflin and Dr. Earley as we explore ways we can collaborate in offering outstanding learning opportunities for our students moving forward.

I thank you for your interest in our program and hope you’ll continue to follow our work as it grows and evolves. We always welcome comments and questions; you can write to us at prisoneducation@unca.edu.

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