GIG HARBOR -- It’s the first of its kind in Washington state -- a prison program that helps women earn college degrees while behind bars.

The program at the Washington Corrections Center for Women is privately funded, but recently our legislature agreed to allow some public dollars to pay for more programs like it.

Professors travel to the prison near Gig Harbor and teach classes just like they would on a college campus.

Take a look inside the classroom

Academic expectations are the same and the teachers don't ask about inmates’ crimes. They are simply students while in their classes.

Studies show that inmates who take part in programs like this one are 43 percent less likely to return to prison. For every $1 spent on higher education, $5 is saved in reduced costs due decreased recidivism.

"I didn't have the tools to function as a normal contributing member of society. I just didn't have the tools. And her I am, and I'm sorry I ended up here," said Keating, an inmate in the program. "Now, I know what I'm capable of."

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