Bard College, New York is creating real change in the prison industrial complex. Beating Harvard University in a debate is only a small feat when we take into account the many who will be released from prison with a leg up over some that have never seen prison walls. The international “Ban the Box,” which counsels employers across the globe to eliminate judging employment applicants first on whether or not they have been imprisoned, along with prisoners leaving prisons work ready heals societies already burdened with economic trials.
The BPI is the largest prison education program in the U.S. Almost 300 incarcerated men and women are currently pursuing degrees in six prisons across New York State. Yet, gaining admission to the program is no small feat. Applicants are required to write an essay and go through a rigorous interview process. “It’s a very difficult, very grueling process,” Kenner noted. “But it’s one that rewards student initiative. And something that we take very, very seriously.” In July, BPI was awarded a $1 million grant from the Ford Foundation to help support its work for higher education in prisons and innovations in criminal justice reform.