TODAY!!!  March 3, 2016: Artists in Absentia Exhibit Opens at the Bubbler:


June 26, 2014: Pete Schwaba of Director’s Cut interviews Marc Kornblatt and Colleen Lucey about the Oakhill Project and the documentary.

May 5, 2014: Anne Stranchamps of To the  Best of our Knowledge interviews Naomi Olson about the Russian Literature class she founded and taught at Oakhill for a program about the relationship between empathy and literature: “Does Fiction Make us Good?”

naomi olson ophp crop

April 5, 2014: Marc Kornblatt’s documentary, “Dostoevsky Behind Bars,” is shown to a sold out crowd at the Wisconsin Film festival.


Oakhill Correctional Facility (Photo credit: Marc Kornblatt)

Spring, 2014: Dostoevsky Behind Bars Documentary about Oakhill Prison Humanities Project

University graduate students and prison inmates meet weekly to discuss literature and share personal essays and stories. Classroom sessions and interviews explode the stereotypes of brutish convicts, out-of-touch scholars and callous prison staff, while offering viewers a sense of hope. Shot on location in a minimum-security facility in Wisconsin, this feature-length documentary pays homage to the power of the humanities, the art of teaching and the possibility of redemption for those shunned by society. See more at the Refuge Films website.

Oakhill Correctional Facility

Oakhill Correctional Facility. Photo credit: Aparna Vidyasagar

March, 2014: Chicano Studies Research Center featured our program in their newsletter “CSRC publication to be used in innovative poetry course”

February, 2014: The Isthmus, Out of Prison, Into the Light” describes the social justice work of Caliph Muab El. Both Muab-El, then known as Tony, and his brother Jeremiah, also mentioned in the article, were active participants in our classes while at Oakhill.

August, 2013: Wisconsin Public Radio’s Spectrum West  program features an interview with Steel Wagstaff about the Writers in Prisons Project.

Steel Wagstaff, an active member of the Writers in Prisons Project and an instrumental figure in the establishment of OPHP

Steel Wagstaff, an active member of the Writers in Prisons Project and an instrumental figure in the establishment of OPHP. Photo credit: EOAGH

April, 2012: The Cap Times (“Grad students, inmates explore Russian Literature“) interviews José Vergara, one of the volunteers with OPHP.

Jack Rice, Oakhill director of education

Jack Rice, Oakhill director of education. Photo Credit: The Cap Times

December, 2011: The Correctional Education Association of Wisconsin sponsored a creative writing contest. See some examples of writings and drawings by incarcerated individuals here: “Musings: CEA-WI.”


“Brown Pride” by Arturo Hernandez

September, 2010: Madison Magazine Change of Perspective” article about Laurel Bastian, the founding member of the Writers in Prisons Project (the entity that preceded the Oakhill Prison Humanities Project).


Laurel Bastian, an accomplished poet and dedicated Oakhill Volunteer, who mentored and assisted many of the current instructors at Oakhill.

2010: Verse Wisconsin, “Poetry in Prison” an account of our work at Oakhill by Writers in Prison Project pioneer, Laurel Bastien

August, 2009: The Isthmus, Getting an Education Behind Bars” describes educational opportunities at Oakhill

June, 2009:  In Business, “Sneak Peek at Oakhill Correctional,”  offers a profile of the institution

May, 2007: The Isthmus, Prison Breaks” describes the first class started at Oakhill Prison by Ray Hsu, a former UW- Madison graduate student

September, 2007:  Le Panoptique “Who Owns a Name? Public Funding and the Humanities?” Ray Hsu reflects on his experience teaching incarcerated writers in a Wisconsin prison and on how his work foregrounds the politics of funding in education.

Marianne Erhardt and Ray Hsu by Emma Lierley 2007

Writers in Prisons Project volunteers, Mary Erhardt and Ray Hsu