Critics Say New York Prisons Should Educate, Rehabilitate, Even Inspire

By Brian Mann

Every year tens of thousand of inmates cycle through state and Federal correctional facilities here in the North Country. Almost all of those men will eventually get out of prison.

They’ll go home, back to communities and neighborhoods. This morning, we’re looking at the debate over whether our prisons are doing the right things to help those inmates avoid committing new crimes and cycling back into prison. There are innovative, creative programs.

But critics say the focus on education and rehabilitation doesn’t go far enough.

What if more inmates spent more hours dancing?

For ten years, Susan Slotnick has been teaching modern dance as a volunteer at Woodbourne Correctional Facility, a medium-security prison in the Hudson Valley.  The project is featured in a new documentary called the Game Changer. 

“They’re supposed to be the worst people in the world,” she says in the film, speaking of the prisoners that join her ensemble.  “When I see them move, it’s like looking at something beautiful.”

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