Recently, the Cornell Prison Education Program held graduation ceremonies for 15 students who earned associate’s degrees at the Auburn Correctional Facility. Many of the graduates were African Americans.
The Cornell Prison Education Program began in 2008. About 100 inmates are enrolled at the Auburn facility or the Cayuga Correctional Facility. Some 17 different classes are offered to the inmates in the program. Cornell faculty and graduate students teach the courses and they are aided by more than 40 undergraduate tutors and teaching assistants. The students earn Cornell credits which are transferred to Cuyuga Community College, from which the graduates receive their associate’s degrees.
Prisoners must pass an entrance examination to be admitted to the program. All fees, including books and supplies, are paid for by the program.
It was the first graduation ceremony for the Cornell Prison Education Program. The graduates were the first in New York State prisons to earn State University of New York degrees since the enactment of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act in 1995. That legislation made prison inmates ineligible for federal Pell Grants.