In this episode, listen to an in-depth conversation with Max Kenner '01, alumnus Dyjuan Tatro '18, and Vivian Nixon, Executive Director of College & Community Fellowship who discuss the impact of federal Pell Grant restoration; the history and future of college-in-prison and why it… Read More
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BPI is proud to partner with College and Community Fellowship’s #TurnOnTheTap campaign to restore access to New York’s state-level need-based student grants, the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) for incarcerated students.
This movement has taken on renewed urgency following Congress’s reinstatement of Pell Grant access to incarcerated students in 2020. After the federal Pell ban in 1994, New York implemented a ban on TAP eligibility in 1995. As a result, the number of college-in-prison programs in New York fell from over 70 to 4. The bipartisan restoration of Pell Grant eligibility to incarcerated students is a clear political endorsement of the value of college-in-prison, signaling to New York that it is past time to also restore TAP.
In 1994, the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act made people in prison ineligible for Pell Grants. After the ‘94 Crime Bill, state lawmakers followed the federal lead and rescinded state-level tuition assistance programs. College-in-prison, which had been common in prisons across the country, collapsed.
BPI was founded in 1999, in the wake of the decimation of college-in-prison. For 26 years, BPI joined other advocates in championing the return of Pell eligibility for incarcerated students. In 2016, BPI was proud to join the first cohort of sites receiving experimental eligibility through Second Chance Pell. In December 2020 Congress finally restored Pell Grant eligibility as part of the omnibus spending and COVID relief bill.
As public funding of college-in-prison returns to the field the question shifts from Will there be college-in-prison? to What will the field of college-in-prison look like? With so much at stake, BPI is doubling down on our commitments to national engagement in policy and practice including our summer residency for emerging programs and practitioners.
In early 2020 BPI began working with lawmakers in New York to change Merit Board eligibility rules so that all incarcerated students can be eligible for early release based on earning college credits. On July 21, 2020 the NYS Assembly passed A9543A to include college credits in the Merit Time Eligibility Criteria. Now, the NYS Senate needs to pass its version of the same bill, S7633.
Learn more about this important amendment to the Merit Board rules, and its disproportionate impact on incarcerated women, on our blog.
The Appeal featured several segments about BPI in two Justice in America podcast episodes, as well as an op-ed. Check out more details below: 4/22/2019 Justice in America Episode 29: Schools in Prison Josie Duffy Rice and co-host Derecka Purnell are joined by Dyjuan Tatro '18 and… Read More
The Bard Prison Initiative is a revolutionary program that provides a rigorous college education to men and women in prison. In one of our most power episodes ever, BPI’s founder Max Kenner and recent graduate Sebastian Yoon join Adam this week to discuss how… 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
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