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Unlocked Labs

A better justice system, built from the inside out. UnlockEd is an all-in-one education access and management platform for prisons.



Of incarcerated adults do not have access to higher education


Of returning citizens will be rearrested within 10 years due to lack of access to quality education


Of returning citizens are still unemployed one year after release

Formerly incarcerated people attending a class

The problem

With over 2.3 million people currently in jail or prison in America, the country is in the midst of a mass incarceration crisis. In a prison system that dehumanises historically marginalised populations and lacks the infrastructure to promote positive outcomes, incarcerated individuals do not have the right resources to succeed upon release. Education is the most effective catalyst to reduce recidivism and promote positive outcomes for incarcerated individuals. Yet, the majority of incarcerated people cannot access consistent, quality education. Poor education outcomes in prison often translate to poor outcomes post-release. Within three years of release, more than half are incarcerated again. Within 10 years post-incarceration, 83 per cent of people released return to prison.

The solution

Developed and tested by a team of current and formerly incarcerated individuals, UnlockEd is an all-in-one education access and management platform for prisons. Students access content and courses, from basic and higher education to vocational education and mental health, which helps them gain skills to join high-quality jobs upon release. Instructors run classes via remote live instruction or in person. Prisons offer a wider array of educational options, facilitated through the same secure system while gathering reliable data on program enrolment, engagement, and efficacy.

The organisation therefore trains, employs and transforms– running programmes to train justice-impacted people in tech skills, running a development shop that employs returning citizens and builds products to solve challenges within the justice system.

The insight

So far, UnlockEd has been served c6,000 students across 10 prisons. Partnerships have been developed organically and deliver deep impact for the users. The core catalogue includes 200 unique courses, focusing around four main areas: literacy and basic education, higher education, vocational training, and mental health & rehabilitation. The offering also ranges from open-source educational resources, to institution specific mental health content, to tailored education curriculum.