A research experience equivalent to that of non-incarcerated students without cost for higher education programs in jails and prisons, departments of correction, or incarcerated learners

Browse the Second Chance Month Essay Collection: a collection of creative works by people with lived experience inside jails and prisons that address education and second chances

JSTOR is a premier research database available in most colleges and universities in the United States, more than 3,000 secondary schools, and thousands of higher education institutions throughout the world.

Participation in the JSTOR Access in Prison Initiative provides students at correctional facilities with the opportunity to conduct independent academic research commensurate with the learning opportunities offered on traditional campuses. The initiative provides opportunities to develop research and information literacy skills while supporting higher education attainment in a non-traditional setting.

We have waived all fees for the program for facilities in the United States as part of our mission to expand access to knowledge for underserved learning communities.

What is included

The JSTOR Access in Prison collection contains the same respected corpus of secondary literature available to students on the outside. This ever-growing collection includes 2,600+ academic journals, 7,000+ scholarly ebooks, and 37,000+ open research reports. All content is scholarly and journals are peer-reviewed.

Research and digital skills are fundamental to a college education, and increasingly essential for success in a competitive future. As many incarcerated learners lack technological and research experience, student and teacher guides are included, along with materials to help students develop the necessary skills to conduct rigorous and self-directed academic research.

Access options

We are currently piloting two access options, each designed to meet the security requirements of departments of corrections:

  • Direct Access:
    • Full JSTOR – this version of JSTOR most closely mirrors the academic experience at a traditional college campus. Students access the full text of JSTOR content without individual manual review of each article once jstor.org is whitelisted. While the full JSTOR site does include external links, they do not work unless whitelisted by the facility, and cannot serve as a gateway to internet browsing.
    • Mediated JSTOR – Students gain access via an internet connection to a version of JSTOR hosted at pep.jstor.org. This modified version of JSTOR is designed to meet the unique needs of incarcerated learners while incorporating the media review policy of a correctional facility. This version of JSTOR is a closed system that does not serve as a gateway to internet browsing. The facility will need to whitelist the JSTOR URL and provide computers, laptops, or devices with access to the approved website.
  • Offline Access:
    • Correctional sites and higher education programs can download a copy or request a flash drive that contains an index of the 500,000 most often cited articles across major disciples, designed to work in minimal tech environments. Students browse the titles and submit a manual request for the full text. Requests are then fulfilled by the college or university library by printing and delivering to the student. The facility will need to provide computers or laptops for student use. The system can be set up in an offline computer lab or housed on students’ computers.

Contact us to get started

Download our info sheet: What incarcerated people need to know about student loan cancellation and getting out of default

This work is part of ITHAKA’s Improving Higher Education in Prison Initiative, a series of work to support justice-impacted individuals, empowering them to improve their lives by increasing access to high-quality higher education programs and library resources in prisons.