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7 Inmates Become First Graduates of Yale’s Prison Education Program


Seven Connecticut offenders completed their college degree programs and received their degrees this month as part of a collaboration between Yale University and the University of New Haven.

The alumni took part in the Yale Prison Education Initiative and the Prison Education Program at the University of New Haven, respectively. According to Scripps News, 70 students have completed courses through the program for college credit to date.

More than 130 faculty members, staff, and graduate students helped offenders’ education to ensure the program’s success.

Celebrating his achievement as the student with the highest GPA, MacDougall-Walker Correctional Facility inmate, Alpha Jalloh, said, “I stand here proudly, but sadly, as the first person among my group of friends to earn a higher degree. This program has enabled us to dream in different ways we never thought possible. It nourishes the soul and pushes us to find our place in this world,” according to a press release.

Since May 2018, inmates at the Manson Youth Institution have begun getting training from the Yale Prison Education Institute. When the University of New Haven joined the program in 2021, the universities developed a joint degree-granting program for convicts. The program’s graduates got an associate’s degree in general studies.

Harvin, a recent parolee who plans to practice defense law, attended the event to obtain his associate degree in general studies from the University of New Haven.

In an interview with AP News, he said, “That name, Yale, means so much to me because I’m from New Haven and to be able to study at Yale and begin studying in prison is unheard of. People even think I’m lying sometimes, so I’ll show them my jail I.D. and my Yale I.D.”

Ned Lamont, the governor of Connecticut, spoke at the graduation ceremony and referred to it as one of the most emotional graduation ceremonies he had ever witnessed.

“I loved hearing the pride you have in yourselves and what this ceremony is all about. I’ve heard that the majority of you plan your own futures. Though you define your futures, you can learn from the past,” he said. The Governor reiterated that he has a strong belief in the program and its purpose.

Roland, who oversees the Yale-UNH partnership, said, “We believe that this is a transformative program, that it has the potential to make a generational impact.” “We believe that we’re transforming not just individual student’s lives, but also the institutions that we work in, both the universities and correctional system,” AP News reported.

The program also allows participants to pursue bachelor’s degrees as well.

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