By McKinley Corbley, GoodNewsNetwork, February 12, 2020
In a win-win for the public, these New York prisoners proudly earned their college degrees—while they were still behind bars.
They were part of the latest graduating class consisting of inmates who’ve gotten their diplomas for free through Hudson Link: a nonprofit degree-granting program dedicated to providing prisoners with a college education so they are less likely to reoffend upon release.
According to Hudson Link, the general rate of recidivism in the state is 43%, while the prisoners who walk out with degrees have only a 2% chance of being re-incarcerated.
The organization argues that it costs a whopping $60,000 per year to jail an individual in New York State, but only $5,000 to provide them with a prison education.
Hudson Link is capable of offering the degree program for free thanks to private donations and sponsorships. The organization currently operates out of five different New York prisons, including the Sing Sing Correctional Facility in Ossining where this emotional graduation ceremony below took place last month.
To date, Hudson Link has awarded 700 degrees to inmates. An additional 600 students in state prison are currently enrolled in the program.
The organization was founded by Sean Pica who served his own prison sentence back in 1998. Upon release, after completing a reduced sentence of 16 years, Pica began his trailblazing work with the hopes of offering other inmates a second-chance beyond prison walls.
“I think a lot of our prisons in this country were built on an effort of punishment,” Pica told Freethink. “But when you punish somebody, there’s got to be something about rehabilitation and second chances, and that’s what we’re doing in these prisons.”