A new PBS documentary released on Nov. 25 and 26, ” College Behind Bars,” is another sale of the concept of educating inmates. The four-part series, created in part by legendary filmmaker Ken Burns, tells the stories of students in the Bard Prison Initiative, a program that brings college classes to men and women incarcerated in New York, and how they’ve benefited from it.
To me, the good documentary is a bad sell. It shows how the featured inmates have changed because of their education. But it doesn’t do enough to demonstrate that the biggest beneficiaries of higher ed in prison aren’t the stars of the movie – it’s you.
The only even remotely valid argument against correctional higher education is one of fairness, namely