Peer Education In Virginia

Through JDI's peer education program, people who live inside prisons are becoming leaders in making their detention facilities safer.

An inmate peer educator presenting to staff at a Miami jail

We draw on the wisdom and leadership of prisoners themselves to build game-changing peer education programs nationwide, from prisons in California to jails in Miami.

Our latest success story is Virginia. Working with the Department of Corrections, we recruited and trained prisoners to facilitate sexual abuse education workshops in three pilot prisons. These peer educators, who worked with us to write the workshop curriculum, are recognized as experts in their facilities and trusted by staff and other prisoners alike. They teach their peers about their right to be free from sexual abuse, how to stay safe, and what to do if they are not — and they respond with compassion and support to prisoners who need help.

The program is making a difference. But don’t take our word for it. A peer educator named Rich* said that, due to the workshops, “Those around me are better informed, respectful, and tolerant of each other.”

The program does more than just shift attitudes — it builds leaders. Peer educators develop skills that give their life purpose while they’re locked up — and set them on a path to success when they get released. As Rich said, “I have extra confidence, and it’s made me think bigger. I could see myself getting my instructor’s license. I’m already teaching, so why not? I’m good at it.”


*Rich’s name has been changed to protect his privacy