Prison Mathematics Project- Essay Project: The Value of Higher Education Within Prisons by Joshua Phillips

My name is Joshua Phillips, also known as #874060 in the Washington State DOC. My friends call me Josh.

I’ve been incarcerated for about 13.5 years. The day I went to jail was November 3,2008. I was poor, from a lower class and uneducated. With a trauma filled start in life, I came in with lack of self-awareness, and searching to find where I belonged. With many bumps along the way, I eventually figured out that what I was modeling myself after, the ”convict code” was not who I wanted to be either. With no understanding of the impact it’d have on my life, I picked up a book on Restorative Justice. When I finished, I was overwhelmed with a sense of remorse and knew I could only be accountable for my actions by changing my life. So begun my pursuit of self education.


Eventually, I found myself in a Computer Aided Drafting-Design college course, commonly referred to as CADD. As hard as the material was, I’d fought to get into an accredited college class, and I was going to work my ass off. So begun my journey to becoming a college graduate, with honors. Then I went on to complete the college level Aerospace-Composites Tech program too. Now I’m self educating once again. Education helped give me sense of purpose. My self esteem increased, and I began to believe I had something to offer the community. Eventually I became a Teachers Assistant, and found my calling to help others learn through hard work. This ongoing purpose in my life keeps me grounded, and in good company.


Education made my life better than it ever was before. I’m happy to know who I am, know I’m worthy, and be part of something bigger than myself.


When I can’t…… we can……Help heal humanity!