Prisoners can read Shakespeare, too

Prisoners can read Shakespeare, too
Image: Delaware Online video screen grab

[Ed. – Until they get out into the world and are told that Shakespeare was just another white guy.]

Student Shawnta Montgomery spoke inspiring words at her graduation ceremony: “Inside the walls of a classroom, you escape the walls of a cell — and you become an individual again.” Montgomery was graduating from the Bard Prison Initiative program, featured in the new PBS and Ken Burns documentary, College Behind Bars.

The four-part series tracks a fascinating prison education initiative Bard began in 1999, which now serves 300 individuals. Two dozen similar programs exist in 28 states, though Bard’s is the most highly-regarded.

The documentary provides a fascinating window into the initiative’s prison classrooms: Classic Greek literature, Shakespeare, history, writing seminars, Chinese. The small, seminar-style classes filled with engaged, articulate students could be those of any elite liberal arts college — if not for the green jumpsuits.

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