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Against all odds, we provide unlikely students with access to a world-class legal education.

A Justice Defenders graduate holds a diploma from our partner, the University of London.
A Justice Defenders graduate holds a diploma from our partner, the University of London.

We believe the education offered to those in prison should be of a similar standard to that offered to those who make laws and send people to prison. 

We work with justice defenders from any background. Those willing and able to study, often in difficult and challenging circumstances, to reach a degree-level education. 

Our partnership with prestigious universities, such as the University of London, enables us to provide legal education through distance learning. 

Our classrooms are found throughout men’s and women’s prisons in Africa, where students are taught by qualified law tutors, visiting academics, and professionals. Our students are following in the footsteps of Nelson Mandela, who studied law from prison in South Africa. 

Limited internet access, resources and security restrictions – even basic classroom facilities are hard to arrange. But in 2019 we had a class of more than 50 law students – both prisoners and prison staff. Working together, studying alongside their other responsibilities, and often acting as paralegals in our legal offices. So far, 22 of our students have completed their Bachelor of Law undergraduate degrees (LLB) from UOL.

In recent University of London law exams – taken by tens of thousands of students around the world – our students scored a 91% pass rate. It was our highest ever, and our students have consistently performed at the highest levels when compared to students who are free. We have also been amongst the University’s best performing in human rights law and jurisprudence. Just think. Our best performing law students – many who meticulously study by flashlight in dark cells – are those who have been sentenced to death.

Too often society expects prisoners – and others who are suffering or in difficult situations – to become inward-looking. We forget that they too have rich gifts, talents, and potential which can benefit the whole community. And amazing change can take place in unlikely situations.