The program, which was started with support from an anonymous donor, aims to bring college-level liberal arts courses for incarcerated men.
During the enrollment phase, nearly 100 inmates applied to take the admission exam with 45 finalized for the interview. The applications were judged on the “promise, passion, and intellectual curiosity” of the inmate.
“For some it’s been years since they’ve been in a classroom while others have just taken a math class several months ago,” Program Director Isabel Lane said.
The college is offering courses in introductory philosophy, algebra, and writing, with each worth three college credits. Next spring the school will add courses in history, theology, and literature with the plan to fully accredit the program allowing MCI students to earn a Boston College diploma.
“Our goal is to make this program not just a few classes or a few discrete experiences,” Provost and Dean of Faculties David Quigley said. “We want it to be a degree program.”
The program is part of a network of prison education programs affiliated with the Bard Prison Initiative.
Lately, the campaign to restore Pell grants eligibility for individuals behind bars is gaining huge support from various quarters. Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI), Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) have already introduced the Restoring Education and Learning (REAL) Act, which seeks to end a two-decade-long ban imposed on Pell Grant assistance for incarcerated individuals.