Update | Consortium for the Liberal Arts in Prison

Celebrating Two Years of the Women’s College Partnership

Dear colleagues, faculty, partners, and friends of WCP, We are elated to announce our two-year anniversary at the Indiana Women’s Prison. We are extraordinarily proud of the ways our students and faculty have adapted to the many challenges presented this past year and their unwavering commitment… Read More 

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News | Consortium for the Liberal Arts in Prison

Opinion: Unlocking the Potential of Prison Education

Tanya Erzen, founder and former executive director of Freedom Education Project Puget Sound, a partner in BPI's Consortium for the Liberal Arts in Prison, warns that in-person learning can't be replaced with tablets in prison. This article, reproduced here, first appeared in Inside Higher… Read More 

Event | Consortium for the Liberal Arts in Prison

Moreau College Initiative Debate Team Defeated University of Notre Dame

 NOTRE DAME, IN (February 26, 2020) — The Moreau College Initiative (MCI) Debate Team faced off against the University of Notre Dame Debate Team and won! Held at the Westville Correctional Facility, MCI’s three top debaters, backed by four other team researchers, went head… Read More 

Bennington College approved for prison education initiative

Vermont Business Magazine Bennington College has received accreditation from the New England Commissions of Higher Education (NECHE) to award a Bennington College Associate of Art degree to incarcerated students through its Prison Education Initiative (PEI).

Now in its fifth year, PEI brings Bennington College faculty to Great Meadow Correctional Facility, a maximum-security men’s prison in Comstock, NY, to provide a quality liberal arts education to incarcerated students.

PEI will graduate its first class of Associate of Arts candidates in a Commencement ceremony that will take place at Great Meadow on June 13, 2020.

“This Commencement ceremony will be an important moment for us, celebrating the hard work and academic achievement of our graduates and the success of the program,” said Annabel Davis-Goff, Director and Co-Founder of PEI. “We are proud of our graduates and grateful for the partnership between the College, the Department of Corrections, and the administration of Great Meadow that makes it possible to offer the same high-quality education at Great Meadow that is offered to students on Bennington’s campus.”

PEI currently enrolls 36 students in credit-bearing courses with an additional 10 enrolled in an introductory college preparatory course. Since PEI’s inception in 2015, more than 70 incarcerated students have taken credit-bearing courses in the humanities, math, and computer science.

One in every seven people, and one in five African Americans, currently in prison are serving a life or virtual life sentence. In New York State, it is one in five, according to the Washington, DC-based The Sentencing Project. In maximum-security facilities such as Great Meadow, this proportion is even higher.

Those who are awarded degrees while in prison and are later released have a reduced rate of return to prison (recidivism) and higher rate of employment. For those PEI students who do not re-enter society, this academic experience can have a positive impact on both their own quality of life and that of their family members.

“The Prison Education Initiative embodies many of the core values on which Bennington was founded,” said Isabel Roche, Interim President of Bennington College. “We believe in the unique ability of higher education to enlighten and empower, and in our responsibility to help foster a more just and equitable world.”

PEI’s education-first model encourages students to exercise meaningful agency in their pursuit of education. Students develop personal educational aspirations and contribute toward the collective academic community, and their participation in higher education programs changes the culture of the prison, making it a safer place for both incarcerated students and staff.

As a member of the Consortium for the Liberal Arts in Prison at Bard College, PEI’s presence at Great Meadow provides education to underserved upstate students farther north than any other consortium member. In 2016, PEI was also selected as one of the original sites for the Second Chance Pell Experimental Sites Initiative.

About Bennington College

Bennington College is a liberal arts college in southwestern Vermont that has distinguished itself as a vanguard institution within American higher education. It was the first to include the visual and performing arts in a liberal arts education. It is the only college to require that its students spend a term—every year—at work in the world. Bennington students work intensively with faculty to forge individual educational paths around their driving questions and interests.

Rooted in an abiding faith in the talent, imagination, and responsibility of the individual, Bennington invites students to pursue and shape their own intellectual inquiries, and in doing so to discover the profound interconnection of things.

Source: Bennington, VT: 1.21.2020. Bennington College bennington.edu

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News | Consortium for the Liberal Arts in Prison

Documentary Provides Rare Look at Higher Education in Prison

Emerson College launched the Emerson Prison Initiative (EPI) and joined the Consortium in 2017 with an initial cohort of twenty students at Massachusetts Correctional Institute at Concord who began coursework in the fall of 2017. With assistance from BPI, EPI is expanding course offerings… Read More 

News | Consortium for the Liberal Arts in Prison

Boston College Establishes Prison Education Program

The Boston College Prison Education Program (BCPEP) recently launched and joined the Consortium for the Liberal Arts in Prison. With the support of BPI and friends of the University, BCPEP has launched a college-in-prison program within MCI-Shirley. The first cohort was admitted in summer… Read More 

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