The Last Graduation

America’s prison population is swelling at an alarming rate — tripling in just fifteen years. Education in prison has proven to be one of the few effective tools for turning an inmate’s life around.So why have federal and state governments rushed to cut off funds for effective college prison programs?

The Last Graduation frankly explores the issues involved in this vital question –from the advent of higher education in prison in the wake of the 1971 Attica uprising to the last graduation from the Marist College program at Greenhaven Prison in 1995.

The Last Graduation eloquently advocates reinstatement of college programs by letting the educators and prisoners tell their own stories. But it listens in as “show-’em-no-mercy” legislators make their case in the halls of Congress, too.

” . . .and I began to read. I started with Balzac. I think I read everything in that library . . . and I grew” — “Doc” Dowdy, served 25 years in prison

The video begins with rare archival footage of the Attica Prison revolt and massacre. The climate after Attica led to the first college programs in prison.

“Prisoners very early, I think, recognised the fact that they needed to be better educated. That the more education they had, the better they would be able to deal with themselves and with their problems and with the problems of the prison and with the problems of the communities in which most of them came.” — Eddie Ellis, served 25 years in prison.
Founder & President, Community Justice Center

“Knowledge is a weapon. If knowledge wasn’t a weapon, they would not have denied it. They would not have hung slaves for trying to read a book… It’s a weapon!”
— Theodore Arlington Served 7 years in prison.
Director, Real House, Group Home for Youth Offenders

“Don’t believe the hype. The hype was that I was never going to amount to anything, that I was never supposed to be better than my father. My father went to jail, and I wasn’t going to be any better than him…….Don’t believe the hype.”
— Lateef Islam, served 11 years in prison.
Director, Family Partnership Center, Poughkeepsie, NY


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