- Scott Nangle
On Thursday, May 24, 2018, the Bedford Hills College Program (BHCP) will hold its annual commencement ceremony at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, a maximum security prison for women.
Education and hope are vital to rehabilitation. That is why MMC offers college-prep and degree programs to the women incarcerated at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility. Since its inception in 1997, the BHCP has granted more than 200 degrees to incarcerated women who have completed their academic requirements. To celebrate this accomplishment, the program hosts a commencement ceremony each year, during which family, friends, and supporters can visit the graduates and witness them walk proudly across the stage to accept their diplomas.
This year, five Bachelor of Arts and 11 Associate of Arts degrees will be presented. In addition to the degree presentation, the crowd will hear from the 2018 Class Valedictorian, as well as Elizabeth Sackler, Ph.D.—a public historian and social activist—who will serve as this year’s Keynote Speaker.
Dr. Sackler is the founder of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum, and in 2014 she launched States of Denial: The Illegal Incarceration of Women, Children, and People of Color, an ongoing series providing a forum for activists, organizers, and post-incarcerated persons. In 2015, the Sackler Center exhibited an art installation titled Women of York: “Shared Dining,” which was created by a group of incarcerated women at the York Correctional Institution in Niantic, CT. This work of art was inspired The Dinner Party by Judy Chicago and celebrates women’s achievements while raising questions about politics, gender, and incarceration.
The Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women is New York State’s only maximum-security prison for women. As with all education programs for people within the prison system, the BHCP remains the single most effective tool for decreasing the likelihood of a return to prison. The recidivism rate among released BHCP graduates is virtually zero, as compared with the national average of 43.9 percent for women.
To learn more about the BHCP, click here.