Incarceration in America

The United States has the highest documented rate of incarceration in the world, a rate that has increased by more than 400 percent in the past 40 years. In response to this crisis, Bennington College launched the Incarceration in America initiative, which has included course curriculum, visiting speakers, theatrical events, think tanks, and four conferences focused on developing public policy and political action in the post-tough-on-crime era. Since its inception in 2014, CAPA has partnered with many organizations doing important work in this field, including JustLeadershipUSA, The Fortune Society, Brooklyn Community Bail Fund, and Housing+Solutions. Through this initiative, CAPA has addressed topics as far-reaching as higher education in prisons, the aging incarcerated population, women in prison, how to redefine justice and effect change, immigrant detention and deportation, alternatives to incarceration, and more.

In addition to the events and programming centered around this initiative, a group of students created the Bennington College Incarceration Taskforce (BCIT); this group has published op-ed pieces in regional newspapers, consulted with the Vermont legislature on current and pending bills, and initiated public discussions on issues related to incarceration reform.

It is possible to build a society where restoration, not incarceration, is the answer. Glenn E. Martin, president of JustLeadershipUSA

Prison Education Initiative

In partnership with the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, Bennington offers transferable credited college courses to prisoners at Great Meadow Correctional Facility in Comstock, New York, a maximum-security prison where 1,600 men are incarcerated. Find out more.

Field Work Term Partners

Brooklyn Community Bail Fund
California Coalition for Women Prisoners
Circle T Communications, Inc.
Colectivo Sustento
The Doe Fund
The Fortune Society
Harry J. Brown Jr. Foundation
Housing+Solutions
JustLeadershipUSA
NJ Office of the Public Defender, Middlesex Region
Office of the States Attorney, 9th District
Open Hearts Open Minds (OHOM)
Prison Radio
Public Defenders Service, Mental Health Division
Vera Institute of Justice

Past Conferences

The Future of Higher Education in Prison

April 28-29, 2017
CAPA Symposium
Free and open to the public

Women's Community Justice Project

September 17, 2016
CAPA Symposium
Free and open to the public

Incarceration in America: Redefining Justice

May 6–7, 2016
CAPA Symposium
Free and open to the public

Incarceration in America: Fall 2015 Forum

October 3, 2015
CAPA Symposium
Free and open to the public

Incarceration in America: Effecting Change

May 15–16, 2015
CAPA Symposium
Free and open to the public

Think Tank: Higher Education in Prisons

April 11, 2015
CAPA Symposium

The Castle

March 17, 2015
VAPA D207
Free and open to the public

Incarceration in America: Fall 2014 Conference

October 10–11, 2014
CAPA Symposium
Free and open to the public

40 Years Later: Rightsizing the U.S. Criminal Justice System

April 17, 2014
CAPA Symposium