In the US, the stereotype is that prison is full of minimally educated people (There are some exceptions, of course, like the Unabomber, who had a PhD and had been a university professor, but that was before he went to jail). Apparently lots of prisoners do get GED’s in prison, and some manage to complete correspondence/distance education bachelor’s degrees from institutions like Excelsior (AKA Regents), which offer distance education. What is the highest that an incarcerated person could go, practically, assuming they have the drive, skills, knowledge, and perseverance to complete what they start? Does a person doing 20 years in prison have a reasonable chance of coming out with a Master’s degree if they have the drive and skills? Has anyone done a PhD in prison, or become a respected academic researcher publishing in refereed journals while behind bars, or been granted an appointment as a lecturer, professor, or other academic position contingent on getting out of prison?
I know some programs that require laboratory or clinical experience might be out because they might not be allowed laboratory or field access, so I’d expect that you might not be able to complete an MD or a degree in research chemistry while in the big house, but I don’t see any reason why a prisoner couldn’t go into history or literature, since all those really require are books/journals, pens, paper, and feedback from professors.
How about a mental hospital? Is it possible in any meaningful sense to increase your stature in academia while in a mental hospital? There’s an old joke about a mental patient who showed unexpected engineering skills and when questioned, said that he was crazy, not stupid.