Watch College Behind Bars

A must-see Emmy-nominated film series about the Bard Prison Initiative and the transformative power of education.

Stream on Amazon Prime and PBS.


Ken Burns presents College Behind Bars, a film by Lynn Novick and produced by Sarah Botstein. Never underestimate the power of education. An Emmy 2020 Outstanding Social Issue Documentary nominee.

Watch College Behind Bars

“This past is constantly being resurrected.” In his senior project, BPI student Rodney Spivey-Jones ’17 traces the long history of struggle against anti-Black racism in America.

This clip from Lynn Novick’s College Behind Bars highlights the kind of academic work BPI students are doing as we defy expectations of who college is for and where it might lead.

College Behind Bars, a four-part documentary directed by award-winning filmmaker Lynn Novick takes you on an intimate journey of a dozen BPI students who are earning their college degrees while incarcerated. This film is about the transformative power of education while also confronting and challenging conventional thinking about the purpose of both education and incarceration.

The Bard Prison Initiative enrolls over 300 incarcerated students in six New York State prisons. Since its first cohort in 2001, BPI students have earned over 52,000 credits and more than 550 Bard College degrees. BPI alumni overwhelmingly go home to their communities and give back in ways that positively impact the lives of others.

BPI transforms wealth, power, and purpose in America by providing full-scholarship, college education in the most unlikely places. Please consider giving a gift to support BPI’s groundbreaking work to redefine college access in America and to counter the harm of mass incarceration.

For more information about ways to support the Bard Prison Initiative, please visit our Support page or contact

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