Rethinking mass incarceration will require work in all sectors, from housing and public health to employment and education. All have a role to play, but our public higher education system is especially critical and effective. Research shows a 43% reduction in recidivism associated with education in custody, and 51% lower odds of recidivating for college programs. Higher education credentials and degrees reap significant economic benefits for returning individuals and their communities. Educational attainment facilitates positive social networks that mitigate the myriad effects of a criminal record and increases the odds of finding employment. Credentials and degrees also have a powerful intergenerational impact, building role models and increasing social mobility for generations to come. Using education to transform “offenders” and “inmates” into college students and graduates thus increases public safety, strengthens families, and builds the economic and social opportunities needed for vibrant communities and a strong state.