James McKinney is a member of IHEP’s Higher Education in Prison (HEP) Advisory Council, a select group of HEP practitioners, researchers, and advocates committed to developing a common set of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to assess the quality and impact of postsecondary education in prison, promote robust standards of practice, and improve student outcomes.
James is the warden at the Iowa Medical and Classification Center (IMCC), also known as Oakdale, in Coralville. Jim is the primary contact and essential facilitator of the Liberal Arts Behind Bars (UI LABB) program. He has worked in corrections for 37 years, 20 of those spent with the Iowa Department of Corrections. He works with the National Institute of Corrections teaching leadership and has developed a variety of programs inside to assist incarcerated individuals in becoming successful citizens; Leader Dog for the Blind is one of those programs and, under Jim’s leadership and with his support, incarcerated men in his facility have raised over 600 puppies that became seeing-eye dogs.
Despite his status as a University of Nebraska Cornhusker Alumnus, Jim has participated in every aspect of the UI LABB program since its inception in 2017. Jim’s endorsement has consisted not only of the provision of administrative support in streamlining access for volunteers and ensuring good communications between students, staff, and UI LABB faculty and coordinators, but also of his personal support and expressed belief in the true transformative power of higher education for people who are incarcerated.