Companions at Chillicothe

Companions in Chillicothe

An educational program as a cooperative initiative with the Chillicothe Correctional Center

In 2018, Rockhurst established the Companions in Chillicothe program, providing educational opportunities for both incarcerated offenders and staff at the Chillicothe Correctional Center, located roughly an hour northeast of Kansas City. The all-female Chillicothe Correctional Center (CCC) houses over 1,500 inmates.

As a Jesuit institution dedicated to service and justice, Rockhurst’s partnership with Chillicothe is a natural expression of the university’s philosophy of education that is rooted in accompaniment. It allows the university to walk with incarcerated students down their own educational path, ultimately helping them become honorable members of society upon their release. Multiple studies have shown recidivism rates are reduced through educational programs like this, and students are much more likely to obtain and maintain employment upon release.

About the Companions at Chillicothe Program


The Companions at Chillicothe program provides an educational foundation for the prison staff and the inmate population at CCC, building confidence and self-esteem while also encouraging each person to take full advantage of their unique potential. Inspired by St. Ignatius of Loyola, the Program illustrates a commitment to creating a more just world through:

  • Integrity
  • Humility
  • Tolerance
  • Empathy

Who's It For?

The Companions program is a long-term commitment to the Chillicothe inmates, staff, and local community. Rockhurst provides a transformative learning experience to the students, the teachers, and family members, assisting everyone involved to obtain:

  • An educational foundation to improve their quality of life
  • Greater opportunities to thrive
  • Instill trust and confidence in the correctional system

Several classes are offered synchronously online with Rockhurst students, providing a true higher ed experience for the inmates and staff.

I am so thankful, this opportunity has given me a reason to continue on in here. It's so much more than an education to me. This opportunity has saved my life.

– Lisa Suter

Midwest Innocence Project

Rockhurst University partners with the Midwest Innocence Project (MIP) to allow Rockhurst criminal justice students to participate in actual criminal case reviews. Students are assigned a criminal case to examine, looking for issues of innocence concerning an incarcerated person. These students are responsible for reviewing the case file, including investigative reports, witness statements, laboratory findings, trial transcripts, and appellate decisions.

Instances have occurred in which a convicted individual has been exonerated due to the discovery the individual is innocent, and each individual claiming his or her innocence must file an application for innocence with the MIP. The semester-long project culminates in the production of a paper and an oral presentation to the MIP board describing issues of innocence identified by the students and recommendations which MIP will use to determine whether they will further pursue an attempt to exonerate the individual.

The criminal justice curriculum centers on fundamental aspects of the criminal justice system, including the review of the elements of a crime, the necessary and appropriate procedures utilized by law enforcement officials and court personnel, and the appropriate adjudication of the offense. The academic coursework focuses on textbooks and historical Supreme Court cases to identify and reinforce relevant topics.