Institutional News, CAPA

Think Tank: More Than a Degree

On May 17 and 18, Bennington's Prison Education Initiative (PEI) gathered together a small group to engage in conversation around access and opportunities to higher education for people serving life or virtual life sentences in America.

Participants included college-in-prison educators from New Jersey, Louisiana, Mississippi, Michigan, and California, along with formerly incarcerated individuals working in prison advocacy focused in Maine and New York. This work is part of a project funded by the Mellon Foundation titled More Than A Degree: College Education and the Life Sentence in Carceral America, which focuses on research and national organizing around best practices in prison education for students serving life sentences.
"Over 200,000 Americans are now serving a life sentence in the United States, many of them cast into a dungeon of indifference by states no longer willing to provide opportunities for rehabilitation to those who are never getting out. A handful of educators are trying to change this dismal fact by opening the doors of college to those disregarded by nearly everyone else: lifers," said David Bond, associate director of Bennington's Center for the Advancement of Public Action and the project's principal investigator. "Gathering together for a weekend of documenting the cancerous growth of the life sentence in America today, sharing insights about what college educators can do about it, and collaborating towards a more just world, Bennington College once again found itself advancing the very meaning of progressive education."
Director of PEI Annabel Davis-Goff, said, "We are enormously grateful for the impressive range of experience and expertise brought by our distinguished participants, all of whom traveled a considerable distance to share their ideas and to contribute to this ambitious field of research. We are grateful also to the Mellon Foundation for underwriting this important work."