BPI alumni Dyjuan Tatro and Giovannie Hernandez joined a United Federation of Teachers screening of College Behind Bars as part of UFT's Black History Month Film Series on February 27th and proudly announced to the audience of teachers that Bard College will be offering… Read More
Reimagining the place of higher education.
By The Numbers
Friday, March 20, 2020 1:30-3:30 p.m. Holyoke Library Community Room 250 Chestnut Street, Holyoke Please join us for a screening of highlights from the documentary film COLLEGE BEHIND BARS, about students in the Bard Prison Initiative (BPI), one of the most rigorous prison education programs in America. The screening… Read More
NOTRE DAME, IN (February 26, 2020) — The Moreau College Initiative (MCI) Debate Team faced off against the University of Notre Dame Debate Team and won! Held at the Westville Correctional Facility, MCI’s three top debaters, backed by four other team researchers, went head… Read More
BPI in Action
Launched in 2012, the Moreau College Initiative is a partnership between BPI, the University of Notre Dame, and Holy Cross College. It operates within Westville Correctional Facility – halfway between South Bend and Chicago, IL. Admission is also run at other men’s facilities in the state, from which admittees transfer to Westville. Students study full-time in a liberal arts curriculum that includes theology, literature, history, business, biology, and mathematics.
Both associate and bachelor’s degrees are offered through Holy Cross College, while most faculty and extensive in-kind support come from Notre Dame. Funding is public and private, recidivism is low, and graduates go on to employment and further higher education across Indiana. In May 2019, the Moreau College Initiative held its 5th graduation, conferring both AA and BA degrees.
In spring 2019, BPI hosted the University of Cambridge for the eleventh intercollegiate debate at Eastern Correctional Facility. The BPI Debate Union emerged the winner of a lively debate about nuclear weapons, a team of incarcerated men defeating one of the world’s oldest and best-regarded debating clubs. The remarkable event was featured on the front page of The Washington Post.
The 2018-2019 academic year marked another milestone for BPI debate: the expansion of the team from one BPI site to two; the BPI Debate Union at Fishkill Correctional Facility had its first public debate in spring 2019, facing West Point cadets in a friendly match.
Darren Mack is a distinguished member of JustLeadership USA (JLUSA) and actively engaged in the #CloseRikers campaign. Among other awards, JLUSA honored Darren with its Emerging Leadership Award and featured him as a speaker alongside Glenn Martin, John Legend, and the Speaker of the NYC Council, Melissa Mark Viverito. Darren is also the recipient of a prestigious fellowship from the New York Civil Liberties Union’s Community Organizing Institute.
First enrolling with BPI in 2006, Darren received his Associate in Arts degree in 2010. Released in 2012, Darren graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Social Studies from Bard College in 2013. Darren is on the Bard College Alumni/ae Association Board of Governors and earned his MSW focused in Community Organizing & Policy at Hunter College in 2019. Today, Darren is Director of Community Engagement and Advocacy at JustLeadership USA.
After serving 22 years in prison, he is making up for lost time, with a job at the Ford Foundation, good coffee and a long soak in the tub. By Ted Alcorn Few people know the joy of a free Sunday like Jule Hall. For 22… Read More
One graduate, featured in a new PBS documentary, shares the ups and downs of earning a degree behind bars. In the fall of 2015, a maximum-security prison in New York invited Harvard’s debate team to compete against a squad of three incarcerated men. The men,… Read More
“College Behind Bars,” a new PBS documentary executive-produced by Ken Burns, shines a light on a program that every major university in America should be sponsoring By Jamil Smith When you watch College Behind Bars, which began last night on PBS and concludes tonight, or any… Read More
By Alexander Hall Opinion Contributor Alexander Hall is a housing associate with the Bard Prison Initiative. When my day begins with my phone buzzing 10 times in a row, it’s usually a bad sign. This time was different. My friends were going wild because a follow-up story… Read More
Ted Alcorn writes about BPI Alumnus Rodney Spivey-Jones’s ('17) unique experience of watching himself in a screening of the documentary film College Behind Bars, behind bars. The article, reproduced below, first appeared in Vulture, from New York Magazine. From the article: Spivey-Jones had already seen earlier… Read More
PBS documentary shows how higher education helped me remove the shackles of incarceration. College degrees in prison can do the same for others. by Giovannie Hernandez Opinion Contributor I am choosing to publicly out myself as a convicted felon in this column. Let me tell you why.In… Read More
A new PBS documentary series follows prisoners who earn college degrees while serving time. Director Lynn Novick and graduates Sebastian Yoon and Dyjuan Tatro talk about how the program changes lives. Read More
Anyone looking for something to watch over the Thanksgiving Holidays would do well to check out the inspiring and fascinating “College Behind Bars,” airing on PBS stations on November 25th. An extended trailer can be viewed here. The show focuses on one particular college-in-prison… Read More
PHILADELPHIA – Stacks of books are organized meticulously by genre amid the chaos of a maximum security prison. A makeshift desk made from cardboard is placed over a sink in a cramped cell. A chalkboard is filled with Chinese symbols in a room filled with eager… Read More
In 2015 the story of the Bard Prison Initiative Debate Union's win over Harvard became a global news story. Leslie Brody of the Wall Street Journal, who was there for the debate, first broke the story. Now, four years later, Brody reunited with the… Read More