Mapping the Landscape of Higher Education in New York State Prisons
This week PRI released its most recent report, Mapping the Landscape of Higher Education in New York State Prisons, which is the first of its kind to examine both the history and scope of college-in-prison programs across the state. Mapping the Landscape describes the existing programs and incorporates the perspectives of DOCCS officials, college administrators, and incarcerated students.
The efficacy of college-in-prison programs in reducing recidivism is well documented; a study by the Rand Corporation showed that those who participated in correctional education programs had a 43% lower rate of recidivating than those who did not. Mapping the Landscape explores other benefits of college-in-prison programs, such as improving incarcerated students’ relationships with their families and increasing safety in facilities for both students and correctional staff.
At its peak, New York State was home to 70 higher education programs in state prisons. The elimination of federal Pell and New York State TAP (Tuition Assistance Program) eligibility for incarcerated students in the mid-1990s, however, reduced the number of programs to just four. In the years since, institutions of higher education, DOCCS, private foundations, and incarcerated individuals have collaborated to create the impressive portfolio of college programs described in this report.
In short, there are now 15 college-in-prison programs in New York State, which operate through partnerships with over 30 colleges and universities at 25 DOCCS facilities. Efforts to expand correctional higher education have also been bolstered by the Federal Second Chance Pell pilot program, the District Attorney of New York’s Criminal Justice Investment Initiative (DANY CJII), and funds allocated by the State Legislature. But despite the progress that has been made, currently just 3% of the approximately 47,000 individuals incarcerated in New York State are able to participate in college programs. Mapping the Landscape provides a foundation for considering how to expand access to college for people while they are incarcerated. Mapping the Landscape provides a foundation for considering how to expand access to college for people while they are incarcerated.
Tow Fellow Selected for
Political Leadership Training Program
Tow Fellow Quadira Coles was recently selected for a competitive fellowship with IGNITE National, a non-partisan organization that operates in the political realm. IGNITE National is a powerful movement of civically engaged young women who are ready and eager to become the next generation of political leaders.
“My role with IGNITE is to engage young women across the state of New York and bring IGNITE chapters to their college campuses,” said Quadira. “I am extremely passionate about this type of work because it closely aligns with my own personal and professional goals to encourage my peers to become more civically engaged and to become innovative leaders.”
As a Tow Fellow at the Legal Action Center, Quadira focuses on identifying strategies and providing research designed to expand Alternative-to-Incarceration and community reentry programs for justice-involved and reentering individuals, and address treatment and preventative care programs for persons with histories of substance use disorder and mental illness within and beyond the criminal justice system. She also works as a research assistant for Dr. Nicole Elias, conducting LGBTQ+ research. Quadira plans to run for public office and make her way up the legislative branch to represent her generation and community.
PRI's Career Pathways team is recruiting participants for Tech 101: Introduction to technology for the workplace, an entry-level technology skills class for people with prior criminal justice involvement. Supported by the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, Tech 101 aims to increase participants' comfort with and aptitude in technology, including an introduction to the Microsoft Office and Google Suites.
To learn more about Tech 101, download this flyer, visit out website, or contact Drew Oldfield at 212.887.6182 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The next session of Tech 101 will begin on May 13th, with classes on Mondays and Wednesdays from 5:30pm to 9:00pm. (Pictured above: Tech 101 students with PRI tech instructor Albert Fermin in fall 2018.)
College Initiative Alumni Participate in
Beyond the Bars Fellowship
PRI would like to congratulate two alumni of its College Initiative program, Greg Hetmeyer and Dale D’Amico (pictured with Kathy Boudin of the Center for Justice), for their selection and participation in the 2018-19 Beyond the Bars Fellowship at the Center for Justice at Columbia University. The Fellowship is an interdisciplinary leadership development program for participants to build skills and networks to move towards ending mass incarceration. Fellows participate in seminars, workshops, and guest lectures and are introduced to various models of social change, including community organizing, legislative advocacy, messaging and communications, and more. Fellows also help organize the annual Beyond the Bars Conference, which focused this year on the incarceration and criminalization of women and girls.
“I would like to thank Kathy Boudin, Cheryl Wilkins, Cameron Rasmussen, and Shawnda Chapman for recognizing my desire to end mass incarceration and for giving me the opportunity to help organize the annual Beyond the Bars Conference,” said Dale D’Amico. “It was an honor to work with a diverse group of people committed to social change. The other Fellows inspired me to work hard to become a social justice advocate. I truly believe that all our hours of hard work will reap huge benefits for the women and girls impacted by the criminal justice system.”
Dale D’Amico took classes at the Otisville Correctional Facility through PRI’s Prison to College Pipeline (P2CP) program. Upon release, he earned an Associate’s Degree from Hostos Community College and a Bachelor’s Degree, with honors, from City College of New York. Dale is also currently a College Initiative mentor. Greg Hetmeyer is a current MSW candidate at Columbia University’s School of Social Work. Greg serves as a College Initiative mentor and facilitates a virtual support space for men released from prison returning to communities across the country.
The Tow Policy Advocacy Fellowship provides John Jay College graduate students with hands-on placements working for successful policy advocacy organizations in New York City, while they complete relevant coursework to deepen and enrich their field experiences. Students accepted to the Tow Policy Advocacy Fellowship receive full tuition remission (at the in-state rate) while they participate in the Fellowship, as well as other benefits. Applications are due April 15, 2019. Contact Maria Iskaros at email@example.com or 212-887-6235 with any questions.
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