Although he received a scholarship to the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1969, Stephen Richards’ education was interrupted by the lure of marijuana. Instead of a college degree, Richards got a federal prison sentence. Nearly 20 years after his release, Richards is back in the classroom–and back in prisons, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Now a tenured professor at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Richards leads a national movement of some three dozen ex-convicts with advanced degrees.
Through their writing and research, they advocate for change in the criminal justice system. Richards also works in Wisconsin prisons, hoping to convince a new generation of felons that education can save them, the way it saved him. Richards finished his bachelor’s degree through correspondence while in prison. Upon release, he earned a master’s degree and PhD. A coincidental letter from an inmate touched off his interest in education advocacy for prisoners, the Milwaukee paper reports in a profile.