Taking College to Prison


A pioneering program launched at the medium-security Otisville Correctional Facility in upstate New York this year earns qualified offenders an admission to one of the colleges in the City University of New York system on their release.

The “Prison to College Pipeline,” developed by John Jay College Professor Baz Dreisinger, is aimed at reviving support for prison educational services that can cut recidivism–and has won support from state prison authorities and politicians. One of the program’s most unique features is bringing undergraduate student studying criminal justice to the prison,where they study alongside inmates in classes taught by John Jay faculty—a component which supporters say gives inmates a sense of what it takes to succeed in college and gives students a chjance to re-think their stereotypes about prison life.

Penal experts and prison officialssay that if the program proves successful it can serve as a model for other prisons in New York State ands around the country.

The Crime Report’s Executive Editor Steve Handelman traveled to Otisville with a team from John Jay’s Criminal Justice Matters show for a rare inside glimpse of the “Pipeline.”

The 30-minute program profiles Juan Ecchevaria,a former Otisville inmate who completed the program this summer, and is now a student at CUNY. Also interviewed are prison superintendant Kathleen Gerbing, Otisville education supervisor Lesley Hurd, New York State Assemblyman Jeff Aubry, and John Jay Prof. Baz Dreisinger. To download the program, please click HERE.

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