"College Behind Bars" Screening and Discussion (Sidore Lecture Series)

Tuesday, January 28, 2020
5:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Memorial Union Building Theater II
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Gaudet, Kate
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College Behind Bars, a four-part documentary film series directed by award-winning filmmaker Lynn Novick, produced by Sarah Botstein, and executive produced by Ken Burns, tells the story of a small group of incarcerated men and women struggling to earn college degrees and turn their lives around in one of the most rigorous and effective prison education programs in the United States, the Bard Prison Initiative. We will be showing a one-hour condensed version of the series, followed by a discussion with an alumnus of the program.

Featured Speaker: Giovannie Hernandez (Bard College ’17)

In his own words: “I was incarcerated for 11 years and 6 months. While in prison, I earned a GED, completed vocational training and satisfied other mandatory programs. None of this was as meaningful or as transformative as my pursuit of higher education.

"For most, prison is an experience without purpose. It is traumatic, exhausting and emotionally and physically damaging. Because our criminal justice system prioritizes punishment over genuine rehabilitation, prison often does not adequately prepare people to return to society. But I got lucky. While incarcerated at New York’s Eastern correctional facility, I was able to attend college through the Bard Prison Initiative (BPI). It was one of the hardest challenges of my life. I took the same classes as students at Bard College — a private, liberal arts school in Hudson, New York.

"My educational experience before then had been almost entirely prescriptive. I knew school as a place where educators told me what to memorize, what to think, what to know. It did little more than make me a passive learner, a receptacle for information.”[1]

Mr. Hernandez now works as an Operations Manager for the Code Cooperative, a community of people who learn, use, and build technology to create life changing possibilities for individuals and communities impacted by incarceration.

[1] https://bpi.bard.edu/tags/giovannie-hernandez/

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