NY Maximum-Security Inmates Get Movie Offers For Beating Harvard In Debate


When three New York maximum-security inmates beat Harvard College students in a debate last month, they wanted to show the power of a prison education. They never expected what happened next, says the Wall Street Journal. A Journal's article on their victory became a hit on social media, drew news coverage around the world and brought inquiries from movie producers jostling for film rights. For men with no access to the Internet, the speed and breadth of attention has been stunning, said their coach, David Register. “They are so amazed that the world cares about their story so much,” he said. “Even more meaningful than the knowledge of the widespread coverage is the realization of just how proud their families are of them.”

The debaters are on a 20-member team at Eastern New York Correctional Facility in the Catskills. They are pursuing degrees through the Bard Prison Initiative, a part of Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y., which offers about 300 inmates statewide a rigorous college experience. Dyjuan Tatro, 29, who hopes to go to graduate school for molecular biology after finishing his sentence for assault, said he was thrilled to have won against such an articulate team. “You see these young kids and they blow you away,” he said. Carlos Polanco, 31, convicted of manslaughter, said “it was a relief” the debate was over so he could catch up on his homework. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan tweeted that “Someone should make a movie about this true story.” A film crew shot the debate for a documentary to be released in 2018, with the working title “College Behind Bars.”

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