Cornell Prison Education Program
Begun under the auspices of the School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions (which continues to register the students each term), the Cornell Prison Education Program provides a liberal arts curriculum leading to an Associate of Arts degree for men incarcerated at the Auburn and Cayuga Correctional Facilities. Cornell faculty and doctoral students serve as instructors for all courses, and a community college accredits the degree conferred upon eligible prisoners.
The program offers nearly a dozen courses each semester in economics; constitutional law and individual rights; creative writing; genetics; medical anthropology; international human rights; writing; math; and Asian meditation. It strives to impart academic skills and modes of critical analysis that will help prisoners negotiate some of the tensions that shape their everyday existence; expand their personal horizons; structure professional ambitions; and prepare them to join the workforce as informed citizens.
"Cornell classes opened a window bringing fresh ideas and an escape from monotonous living," says Raymond, a former program participant recently released from prison. "We knew these classes were only possible because there were a few who cared enough not to have given up on us when seemingly everyone else had. Attending classes was more than an opportunity; it was an honor. I've just returned home, and though I will first get a job, I now have the confidence to carry my education forward."
For further information on the Cornell Prison Education, see:
- The Cornell Prison Education Program website
- "College Behind Bars: How Educating Prisoners Pays Off," Forbes, March 25, 2013
- "Prison Education Program expands its offerings," Cornell Chronicle Online, March 5, 2009
- "Cornell at Auburn: An Experiment in Teaching and Learning," a historical account of the program by professor emeritus Winthrop Wetherbee, who began teaching courses at the Auburn Correctional Facility in the mid-'90s.
- "Cornell Expands College Courses to Cayuga C.F.," DOCS Today, Autumn 2008