Bard Prison Initiative

A Good Idea


The Bard Prison Initiative (BPI) provides higher-education to the prisoners of New York. College-in-prison programs have been shown to cut re-incarceration rates from 60% to less than 15% and are one of the most cost-effective forms of public correctional spending. BPI offers college coursework within prisons, enrolling inmates fulltime in liberal arts curriculum offering associate and bachelor's degrees. Professors volunteer their time to teach courses and Bard College student volunteers facilitate GED mentoring courses and workshops. These student volunteers also enroll in classes related to the study of America’s social and civic institutions.

Goal / Mission

The goal of the Bard Prison Initiative is to prevent reincarceration by providing higher-education to prison populations.

Results / Accomplishments

The Bard Prison Initiative has expanded to offer college inside three long-term, maximum-security prisons and two transitional medium-security prisons. The curriculum is equivalent to that provided to on-campus students and the application process is as competitive as top-level universities. Nearly 250 women and men are currently enrolled full time working toward associate and bachelor degrees, and roughly 25 campus students per week volunteer at 5 regional prisons.

BPI's recidivism rate is approximately 4% and our graduates go on to achieve success in graduate school, non-profits, the arts, and private businesses.

About this Promising Practice

Primary Contact
Laura Liebman
Bard College
PO Box 5000
Annandale-on-Hudson, NY 12504
Public Safety / Corrections
Education / Higher Education
Education / Educational Attainment in Adult Population
Bard College
Date of publication
Date of implementation
New York
For more details
Target Audience
Adults, Racial/Ethnic Minorities
Additional Audience
Prison Inmates

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