Logo Bard Prision Initiative (BPI)
  • Give to the Bard Prision Initiative

14th BPI Commencement at Woodbourne Correctional Facility

Protocol for Entering the Prison

Before entering Woodbourne, all guests will pass through a security checkpoint similar to that at any airport - you must present a valid photo ID.  All electronic devices, including cell phones, smart watches, and cameras, are strictly prohibited. Please minimize what you bring inside - handbags, briefcases, and accessories should be left in the car. Dress is business casual and the ceremony will be outside. Guests are asked to arrive by 10:00 a.m. to allow time for security processing. Lunch will follow the ceremony and will conclude by 3:00 p.m. Guests who do not wish to join us for lunch may leave the facility at 1:00 p.m. 


Driving Directions

For guests driving to Woodbourne, directions are provided below.  If you plan to use GPS, the address is Woodbourne Correctional Facility, 99 Prison Road, Woodbourne, NY 12788-1000.
  • Take I-95 S/US-1 toward GW Bridge/Upper Level
  • Take Exit 74 and merge onto Palisades Parkway N
  • Merge onto 1-87 N/New York State Thruway N via Exit 9W toward Albany
  • Take the Rt-17 exit, Exit 16, toward US-6/Harriman – merge onto NY-17 W
  • Take the US-209 exit 113, toward Wurtsboro/Ellenville
  • Turn right onto US-209 (North) to Ellenville
  • Turn right onto Canal St/NY-52 and continue to follow NY-52 for 11.48 miles
  • Turn left onto Riverside Dr.

  • Make a right onto Rt 9G
  • Cross the Kingston/Rhinecliff Bridge
  • Stay straight onto US-209 S for 30 miles
  • Turn right onto Canal St/NY-52 and continue to follow NY-52 for 11.48 miles
  • Turn left onto Riverside Dr.


BPI Student Received His Degree at Bard's 2015 Commencement, Where Sherrilyn Ifill Was the Speaker

Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., delivered a powerful commencement speech at Bard's 155th commencement on Saturday, May 23rd. In her remarks, she commended Bard for “reimagining what high school and college can look like for young people in some of our most challenged and under-resourced communities.” In her address she referred to BPI: “What can I say to you when the institution that has shaped you reaches into our prisons and recognizes the humanity, the intellectual potential, and the dignity of the incarcerated by offering the opportunity to earn a four-year Bard College degree.”

BPI student, Michael Cleland, who was recently released from prison, received his BA degree with his fellow Bard graduates. BPI alumni and their families joined in the celebration.

13th BPI Commencement

On June 2, 2015, BPI celebrated its 13th Commencement at Taconic Correctional Facility for women in Bedford Hills, NY. The milestone ceremony was the first at that facility and the second for BPI's female students. BPI awarded associate in arts degrees to nine students, with an additional four men in absentia.  This video celebrates the graduates and offers an interview with a BPI alumna who shares her views on the importance of obtaining a college education while incarcerated.


12th BPI Commencement

On January 24, 2015, the Bard Prison Initiative (BPI) held its 12th commencement at Eastern NY Correctional Facility in Napanoche, NY.  Fifty one students received Bard degrees and Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York, delivered the commencement address and received an honorary doctorate. Of those graduates completing bachelor's degrees, nearly half majored in math. Their Senior Projects range from the development of a new method for sifting prime numbers, to an application of game theory, to the health care market. This short film celebrates that ceremony, the generosity of Cardinal Dolan, and the accomplishments of those graduates.


BPI Graduates Receive B.A. Degrees at
Bard College's 153rd Commencement

_______________________________________________________BPI Graduates Receive B.A. Degrees at Bard College
Bard alumni remember what a challenge it is to complete a Senior Project -- an original research paper typically 80 pages in length. Over the past year, two BPI students completed their Projects after their release from prison -- amidst finding housing, work, and reuniting with their families.

On May 24, 2013, they received their BA degrees at Bard's on-campus graduation, alongside 500 other Bardians. They were each warmly welcomed by President Leon Botstein, Commencement Speakers Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly, and the entire graduating class. Brian Fischer, who recently retired as Commissioner of the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, received an honorary doctorate of laws.


11th BPI Commencement

The Bard Prison Initiative (BPI) held its 11th commencement at the Woodbourne Correctional Facility in Woodbourne, New York, on Saturday, May 31. BPI awarded associate in arts degrees to 36 students. The commencement speaker was Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney, D–New York, who was honored with Bard College’s John Dewey Award for Distinguished Public Service. Additional remarks were provided by Bishop Andrew M. L. Dietsche, the 16th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New York, and Bard College President Leon Botstein.

The video below captured the spirit of the day:


2013 BPI Commencement Celebrations

On January 26, 2013, the Bard Prison Initiative held its tenth and largest-ever commencement ceremony at Eastern New York Correctional Facility. Sixty incarcerated students received associate or bachelor's degrees. The Reverend Calvin Butts delivered the address and President Leon Botstein presided. Senior Projects by the bachelor degree graduates included investigations of topics ranging from "Exploring Fractal Dimension Calculations for Chaotic Systems" to "Ludwig Erhard and the Limits of Economic Liberalism in West Germany from 1948 to 1963." Associate degree graduates included women and men who began their studies with Bard in prisons all across New York State.  

Below is a video postcard from that morning at Eastern:



Celebrating BPI's Alumnae

_______________________________________________________Celebrating BPI
On Sunday, June 16th, 2013, BPI hosted a celebratory lunch for four women who graduated in absentia this past January following the evacuation and subsequent closing of Bayview Correctional Facility in Chelsea.  Danielle D'Ambrosi, Jaylene Hill, Catherine Menendez and Tiffany Pelaez received their AA degrees and were joined by family, friends, and BPI faculty and staff for a joyful gathering.