Watch College Behind Bars

BPI vs. Harvard, watch the extraordinary win on film!

Stream on Amazon Prime and PBS.

Bard Prison Initiative’s Debate Union 12–4 record speaks for itself, demonstrating the tremendous efforts BPI students put into their college experience: both academic work and extracurriculars. The BPI Debate Union win against Harvard in 2015 brought the team international attention and challenged prevailing ideas about who incarcerated students are and what they are capable of. 

But that win is just one moment of their incredible story. Watch the four-part film series College Behind Bars to learn more about the transformative power of education.

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

Since BPI Debate Union’s win against Harvard in 2015, BPI students have since won West Point (3X), Brown, Morehouse, University of Pennsylvania, University of Cambridge, and Duke University. Watch that moment in College Behind Bars.

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 seven 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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