Communications | Communications

The New York Times: Letter to the Editor, Re: “An Educational Revolution Is Beginning Behind Bars”

To the Editor:

Re “An Educational Revolution Is Beginning Behind Bars,” by Max Kenner (Opinion guest essay, Nov. 18):

Mr. Kenner’s essay should prompt a dialogue about the many ways to reduce crime.

I was a high school dropout with no prospects other than selling and using drugs. I went to prison and was convinced I should get my G.E.D. there. A program counselor saw my test scores and suggested I try a college class. That was all it took.

Every book I read was another door opening. When I was released in 1991, instead of going back to the streets, I went to the Fortune Society and found a job while continuing my college education at Hunter.

I could never have predicted what was ahead. I was honored as a Champion of Change in the Obama administration and appointed by the City Council to serve as vice chair on the Board of Correction, later becoming the first formerly incarcerated person in New York history to be named first deputy commissioner of the New York City Department of Correction.

And on Jan. 1, I will begin a new chapter as president and C.E.O. of the Fortune Society, the grandfather of re-entry programs, with a staff of 500 serving over 11,000 people.

College in prison changed my life.

Stanley Richards

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