College Behind Bars

Stream it on Amazon Prime and Netflix

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.

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About the Film

Now an Emmy nominee!

College Behind Bars, a new four-part documentary about the transformative power of education, which premiered nationwide on PBS, is now available on Netflix and Amazon Prime. College Behind Bars is an intimate look at the lives and experiences of a dozen BPI students and their families that confronts and challenges conventional wisdom about the purpose of both education and incarceration.


“What you see at the end is a testament to the power of education, and why it remains such a dangerous and underrated weapon against a racially and economically unjust status quo in this nation.”

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“The powerful new miniseries suggests we might find hope in the transformative effect of higher education.”

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Add College Behind Bars to your must watch list! It is a marvelous new film by @KenBurns, @LynnNovick, and @sbotstein!

Henry Louis Gates Jr

“[A] nuanced look at education in the prison industrial complex.”

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 College Behind Bars is perhaps one of the best documentaries that I’ve seen about criminal justice in the past 5 years. I thought it was incredibly well done in all ways.

Deray McKesson 

“An important educational call to arms. The doc is also a moving portrait of individuals determined to defy the odds and build a better future for themselves.”

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— Laura Berger, Ms. Magazine


Tune in for an unparalleled look inside @BPIBard, one of the most rigorous & challenging #CollegeInPrison programs.

Bobby Rush

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College Behind Bars is directed and produced by Lynn Novick; produced by Sarah Botstein; edited by Tricia Reidy ACE; produced by Salimah El-Amin and Mariah Doran; original music by Jongnic Bontemps; cinematography by Buddy Squires ASC and Nadia Hallgren. Ken Burns is executive producer. College Behind Bars is a production of Skiff Mountain Films, in association with Florentine Films and WETA-TV.

To learn more about this project go to:

Skiff Mountain Films