'College Behind Bars' Looks At The Transformative Potential Of Prison Education Programs | St. Louis Public Radio

'College Behind Bars' Looks At The Transformative Potential Of Prison Education Programs

Nov 15, 2019

From left, Lynn Novick, Salih Israil and Paul Lynch joined Friday's program.
Credit Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Filmmaker Lynn Novick’s new documentary “College Behind Bars,” set to air on PBS later this month, follows the journeys of men and women pursuing academic degrees while in prison. In doing so, it illustrates the life-changing nature of educational opportunity while also putting a human face on mass incarceration and, as the film’s website puts it, “our failure to provide meaningful rehabilitation for the over two million Americans living behind bars.”

Prison education programs, including the one featured in Novick’s film, the Bard Prison Initiative, are among efforts to address that failure across the nation. Locally, both St. Louis University and Washington University run programs that bring faculty members to several of the region’s correctional institutions to lead college-level classes. And like other such programs, they boast extremely low recidivism rates for participants who have since been released from prison.

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, Novick joined host Sarah Fenske to discuss her film and the critical issues it puts in the spotlight. An alumnus of the Bard Prison Initiative, Salih Israil, participated in the conversation, too, as did Paul Lynch, the director of SLU’s Prison Program.

Listen to the discussion:

Catch the four-part documentary series "College Behind Bars" on the Nine Network at 9 p.m. Nov. 25-26.

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill, Lara Hamdan and Tonina Saputo. The engineer is Aaron Doerr, and production assistance is provided by Charlie McDonald.

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