(rain falling) – [Officer] 19 and 29. – I’ve spent more time in prison than I did in the free world. I came to jail when I was 17 years old. So, it’s like freedom, it’s
hard to visualize for me. – I’ve been incarcerated
for thirteen years and from my experience, I can tell you, prison is here to punish us. It’s here to warehouse us, but it’s not about rehabilitating. It’s not about creating productive beings. It just isn’t. – This is my cell. This is where I rest my head. You have my sink, my window. You see, I don’t have much of a view of much out there. (murmurs) – [Officer] To the armory. All inmates to the armory. (ominous music) – We’re gonna start course
work Monday morning. This is a full-time, and
long-term, and total commitment. When that door closes,
you’re at Bard College. (bell ringing) – Several of you, have in
the past, referenced things like W.E.B. Du Bois Double
Consciousness, right? – A lot of the stuff I was reading, I couldn’t understand what it was. You know, it would take me two, three hours just
to get past two pages. – Anything, everything you believe, or was taught to believe,
none of that matters. It’s like all that is bull (bleep). Now, I want you to read
with like a fresh slate. – So what else I have, you know? So u1, a1, u2, a2, so u3,
a3, and plus amount, u4 a4. Okay? – So you’re selecting the terms. – Mary Shelley with Frankenstein. She kind of put a critique on women and how they were like
downcast, but Jane Austen is somewhat given women
some kind of power. – College, it helps us
become civic beings. It helps us understand that we have an interest in our community. That our community is apart
of us and we are a part of it. – Now, just thinking about this
quote from “A Song Myself.” I am vast. I contain multitudes. The individual is not just this set being. His relationship to everyone
else and everything else in the world constitutes this oneness. What I do today, may affect what someone is capable of doing
tomorrow, or vice versa. – It causes you to look at
the United States differently. It causes you to look
at politics differently. – [Announcer] Attention, all inmates. Line up on the white line by the rec room for the count. – It is balancing two identities. Right? You’re a prisoner, and you’re a student. I don’t want to say all of the officers, and maybe not majority of them, but quite a few of them, don’t see me as a student. I’m a prisoner. – We have to remember that
there are a lot of people who believe that what we do is wrong, but over the course of years that we have been doing this work, that the politics have changed at the local, state, and federal level. – This is a once in lifetime, once in a lifetime opportunity for me. I don’t care what you
do, take the computers, take the library, take everything. – [Prisoner] They did. As long as I have my books. Exactly, they’ve done it before, and what did you guys do? – We wrote papers by hand. – Harvard, tell me this. How do you reduce class size in the face of the current influx
of undocumented children in districts already suffering the effects of overcrowded classrooms? – So, we were split as a judging panel, and the 2-1 split was in favor of Bard. (crowd clapping) – Because we’re in
prison, we’re not animals. These green color, they
don’t define who we are. You know what defines us is
our minds and our hearts. That we have moralities, even in prison. We have intelligent men, even in prison. (foreign language) (foreign language) – A friend of my forced
me into the program. It’s probably the kindest,
most loving thing, anyone has ever done for me, was force me to apply to this program. – I came to prison when I was sixteen. Right, I can’t undo the
twenty some odd years that I’ve spent in here. I would never, for the life of me, want to see another sixteen year old kid throw his life away. – They made horrible
decisions that ruined, not only their lives, but
multiple people’s lives, but a lot of them are
trying to make up for it as best that they can, and they’re trying to pay back to society. – I’m going home. (murmurs) (calm music) I want my life to be a testament to the person’s life I took. (calm music) That requires working to
the best of my ability, in making my life itself a
symbolic, memorial to his. That’s the only way I will
be able to redeem myself. In my eyes, in my family’s
eyes, in society’s eyes. That’s the only way. (crying) – I’m so happy. (calm music) – It changes your whole
outlook on the world, period. You know, knowing that this
is not the end for you. (buzzing sound)
(calm music)