Program Website: https://www.mmm.edu/academics/bedford-hills-college-program.php
Contacts: Aileen Baumgartner, Director, firstname.lastname@example.org, 914-241-3100 ext. 4514; www.mmm.edu/study/resources/academic/bhcp.html
Program Description: Through the Bedford Hills College Program, Marymount Manhattan College offers non-credited College-preparatory courses and credit-bearing courses leading to Associate of Arts degrees in Social Science and Bachelor of Arts degrees in Sociology at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, a New York State maximum-security prison for women.
In 1995, laws were passed preventing federal monies from being used for educating the incarcerated, causing many prison programs across the country to close their doors – including the one at Bedford Hills. A task force, chaired by then-superintendent Elaine Lord and comprised of education specialists and the incarcerated at the facility, found that the impact of higher education substantially reduced re-incarceration rates. To re-establish the college program without state and federal funding, the taskforce created a consortium of schools that would donate funds and faculty to continue the college program.
The Bedford Hills College Program was founded with this mission statement, composed by the Inmate Committee at the institution in 1996:
We understand the public’s anger about crime and realize that prison is first and foremost a punishment for crime. But we believe that when we are able to work and earn a higher education degree while in prison, we are empowered to truly pay our debts to society by working toward repairing some of what has been broken.
Degrees Offered: Associate of Arts in Social Science and Bachelor of Arts in Sociology
Programs Offered: Marymount Manhattan College is the degree-granting institution and five other schools in downstate New York contribute faculty, resources, and other support to maintain the program (Bank Street College, Barnard College, Manhattanville College, Mercy College, Pace University and Sarah Lawrence College). To fulfill their requirements for a MMC degree, the students at the facility take the same courses offered in Manhattan, including the foundation courses for the General Education Initiative, and a wide variety of electives in art, history, creative writing, computer systems and the sciences.
Unique Features: In addition to supplying the necessary classroom space, the correctional facility supplies room for a learning center that contains the college’s computer lab and the on-site library, staffed by a dedicated coterie of volunteers from the Bedford Hills area. The College Program also offers a wide range of extra-curricular activities and events to the students. These include on-site academic conferences, art exhibits, guest speakers, poetry slams, and a regularly published newsletter written and edited by program students and graduates.
Headquarters: New York, NY
Correctional Facilities Served: Bedford Hills Correctional Facility
Population Served: Incarcerated women of Bedford Hills Correctional Facility; Applicants to the program take placement examinations in basic mathematics, reading comprehension, and essay writing. Depending upon their scores, they are either placed into non-credit preparatory courses or matriculate directly into credit-bearing classes.
Number of Students: Over 1000 women; about 175 students each semester
Graduates to Date: Over 100 students; since 1997, the college program has awarded over 70 Associate’s and over 40 Bachelor’s degrees
Year Founded: 1996
Founders: A task force, chaired by then-superintendent Elaine Lord and comprised of education specialists and incarcerated students at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility
College/University/Organization Partnerships: Marymount Manhattan College
Funding: Privately funded; to re-establish the college program without state and federal funding, the taskforce created a consortium of schools that would donate funds and faculty to continue the college program.