Philanthropists, Lawmakers Behind New Push for College Education in Prison
July 27, 2015
The fresh interest in prison education mirrors a broader shift in criminal justice, motivated by a desire to make tax dollars work more efficiently and a backlash against what advocates for reform describe as the dehumanizing effects of incarceration.
Want to Keep Ex-Cons From Returning to Prison? Give Them a Liberal Arts Education.
July 9, 2015
Former BPI faculty member writes in The Washington Post about her experiences and the power of education.
Education gives BPI students a new identity. Instead of being “prisoners,” they are “students,” people destined to improve society. Education also gives them a unique space inside prison walls, where respect, trust, knowledge and intelligence reign. As students in that environment, they can redefine their lives. It inspires them to be better people.
George Chochos: Returning Citizen - Not "Ex-Offender" - Thrives at YDS
March 16, 2015
“What is the possibility of a person like me going to a place like Yale?” This is a question George Chochos ’16 M.Div. still finds himself asking on occasion. It’s a good question, since Chochos didn’t arrive at YDS by conventional means. In fact, a lot of people are asking this question and telling Chocos’s story. He’s been written about, interviewed, and cited as an exemplary story of overcoming great odds to achieve success.
Interview: For Asia Society Staffer, Teaching Chinese to Prisoners Demonstrated 'Power of Education'
April 10, 2015
In 2012, Yun Qin, senior program associate in Asia Society's China Learning Initiatives, taught Mandarin through BPI at a maximum-security prison for men in New York State. In this interview she discusses what the experience was like.
Timothy Cardinal Dolan Blogs About Attending BPI Commencement
January 26, 2015
On January 24, 2015, BPI celebrated its twelfth commencement ceremony. Fifty one students received Bard degrees. Timothy Cardinal Dolan, the Catholic Archbishop of New York, received an honorary degree and delivered the commencement address. He wrote about the experience on his weblog, which garnered national attention from publications such as the Harvard Political Review and the Sterling Journal-Advocate.
Notre Dame and Holy Cross Educators Bring Knowledge and Hope to Westville Prisoners
March 24, 2015
The University of Notre Dame, Holy Cross College, and the Bard Prison Initiative (BPI), in conjunction with the Indiana Department of Corrections (IDOC), are working together to educate and provide hope for prisoners at the Westville Correctional Facility. The program, known as the Westville Education Initiative (WEI), offers male inmates the opportunity to enroll in college level courses to work towards earning an associate’s degree in liberal studies from Holy Cross. These inmates, who have demonstrated both an aptitude and desire to pursue studies in higher education, undertake the same level of responsibility that Notre Dame and Holy Cross professors expect from students at their
How Prison Education Can Save Taxpayers Money
April 8, 2015
Ensuring that former inmates are educated and have the skills to give back to their communities may seem like a no-brainer, but these programs face extraordinary resistance. The common argument against prison education is that while law-abiding college students are struggling, taxpayers don’t see the fairness in paying to educate criminals. However, prison experts argue that public-funded prison education programs actually stand to help tax-paying citizens save money.
America's Focus on Punishment Means Injustice, Inequality
March 5, 2015
From Oscar speeches to op-ed pages, our national conversation has finally focused on one of America’s most glaring affronts to democracy: our shameful record on mass incarceration. We imprison some 2 million people, more than any other country. In the name of justice, we have witnessed – and, with our complicity, perpetuated – countless, unconscionable violations of it.
Professors Bring Wash. U. Education to Local Prisoners with New Program
February 26, 2015
Washington University professors Margaret Garb and Robert Henke entered into a three-year-long pilot program to provide a select group of inmates at the Missouri Eastern Correctional Center with liberal arts educations. The program was funded and inspired by the Bard Prison Initiative. “This is a real test,” Henke said of the program, “where the rubber meets the road in terms of liberal arts if we believe that a liberal arts education is valuable within itself. We are bringing liberal arts ideas into a real community and into a group of people who are very excited about learning.
It’s not a new idea…but it’s an idea that works.”
The Amazing Results When You Give a Prison Inmate a Liberal Arts Education
In October 2014, Kenner was honored at a ceremony at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C. as Smithsonian
magazine announced the winners of the third annual American Ingenuity Awards. The awards recognize the year's most amazing achievements and the innovators behind them.
With No Google, the Incarcerated Wait for the Mail
January 25, 2015
The New York Public Library recently started an Instagram series featuring questions that people posed to librarians in the days before Google. Apparently, librarians stored the more interesting queries for decades. As antiquated as the analog method seems, millions of people in jails and prisons with no Internet access still rely on librarians for answers that could be found in seconds online. Most questions - 84 percent, responders say - come from facilities in New York state; the rest arrive from all over the country.
Trench Democracy in Criminal Justice #3: An Interview with Max Kenner
December 31, 2014
Innovative democratic professionals are recreating some of our most fundamental institutions, shaping new democratic practices and struggling against the sometimes profoundly counter-democratic tendencies of contemporary American institutions. While their work is always in progress, their experiences hold value for anyone interested in democracy’s future. Max Kenner recently discussed BPI, its significance for both incarcerated and conventional students and for the faculty involved, and its long-term democratic implications.
Albany Times Union: A New Prison Equation
September 3, 2014
Which is the better path to a productive life: Watching movies, or going to school? If you think that's a no-brainer, you must not be following New York politics. The same state that adamantly refused this year to help prison inmated better themselves with a college education (at a cost of $5,000 per enrolled inmated) is perfectly contect to pay to show them movies. The latest prison movie contract, running five years and costing about $894,000, was approved by state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.
New York Time Op Ed: Gov. Cuomo's Bold Step on Prison Education
February 18, 2014
One of the biggest obstacles to reducing America’s enormous prison population is the stubbornly high rates of recidivism. Nationwide, as many as half of those released end up back in prison within three years. There are many reasons for this, and not many simple answers, but one solution has long proved to be both reliable and cost-effective: education behind bars.
CNN: School of hard locks: College for prison inmates?
February 18, 2014
"First degree" could take on a whole new meaning within New York's prisons if a new proposal is approved by the state legislature. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has introduced a plan to allow inmates to earn college degrees while behind bars by taking college-level courses. Cuomo cited multiple studies showing "that investing in college education for prisoners dramatically decreased recidivism rates while saving tax dollars on incarceration costs," in a statement released by his office this week.
The Bard Prison Initiative: Bringing Hope to a Broken System
April 1, 2014
In a criminal justice system that’s astonishingly expensive and disproportionately punitive and yet stunningly ineffective at rehabilitating inmates or preventing crime, the Bard Prison Initiative (BPI)—a program of Bard College in Rhinebeck, New York—stands out for an approach that’s both innovative and practical. Founded in 1999 by then-student Max Kenner, BPI creates an opportunity for incarcerated men and women to earn a Bard College degree while serving their sentences.
ON THE RADIO
UpFront – WMUA, 91.1 FM
An Interview with Ellen Condliffe
BPI Distinguished Fellow Ellen Lagemann was interviewed about BPI by Daria Fisk on UpFront – WMUA, 91.1 fm, December 12, 2012.
Letter to the Editor – Harvard Magazine
BPI Distinguished Fellow Ellen Lagemann’s letter to the editor, published in the May-June 2013 issue, in response to the article “America’s Prison Problem.”