NY Launches Degree Program at State Prison in Hudson Valley

By Michael Virtanen

New York University has enrolled 36 inmates in English classes at Wallkill Correctional Facility in the Hudson Valley.

Their first courses are “Literary Analysis and the Politics of Interpretation” and “Critical Perspectives on Justice through Creative Writing.” They take one or the other.

Backed by a $500,000 Ford Foundation grant, NYU’s new program began this semester and can lead to an associate’s degree.

According to the university, credits earned at the medium-security prison in liberal arts, or future introductory courses from its professional schools, can apply later in continuing studies at NYU or can transfer to other colleges.

“By expanding access to a university education to incarcerated students, the NYU Prison Education Program aims to help redress inequities that result from the fact that the United States incarcerates more people than any other nation in the world — over 2 million — the great majority of whom are poor, African-American and Latino,” said Nikhil Pal Singh, professor in NYU’s Department of Social and Cultural Analysis and faculty director of the program.

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