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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The liberal arts unbound: Higher education in an American prison, 2005–2006
by Tucker, Jed Brown, Ph.D., Columbia University, 2009, 288; 3374087
Abstract (Summary)

During the height of the “mass incarceration” era in the United States (1970–present), a small, liberal arts college in upstate New York introduced two- and four-year college programs inside 5 State prison facilities, enrolling over 200 student-prisoners. The Bard Prison Initiative (BPI) sought to fill the higher education vacuum created by the loss of federally-supported college programs in 1994. The BPI offers a full liberal arts college curriculum to men and women confined inside prisons with the possibility of earning an Associates and Bachelors degree. This is an ethnographic study of one of these college-in-prison sites. This study (1) describes the structural constraints on a college program inside a prison, some of which surprisingly facilitate its success, (2) locates the prison and college staffs' contrasting ideological assumptions about the student-prisoners in actual everyday practices of college students in prison, and (3) demonstrates how enrollment in the college transforms the daily experience of imprisonment, including its effects on social group formation, and the development of self-narratives. The focus on how participation in the college shapes narratives of self aims to explore how the stories we are exposed to and tell ourselves shape our life experiences, including the choices we make.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Bond, George C.
School: Columbia University
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 70/08, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Cultural anthropology, Criminology, Higher education
Keywords: Correctional institutions, Higher education, Higher education in prisons, Liberal arts, Mass incarceration, Prisons, Rehabilitation in prisons, Self-cultivation
Publication Number: 3374087
ISBN: 978-1-109-34514-8
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