BOSTON - The Emerson Prison Initiative is a non-profit that provides college courses to those incarcerated in Massachusetts. It started at MCI in Concord in 2017 and was the idea of Professor Mneesha Gellman.
"The public safety has been for so long, this notion where we incarcerate people, we lock them up and throw away the key," she told WBZ-TV. "Well then, what happens when they come out and they don't have the degree or the skill set to be in the above ground economy. What do we expect?"
Gellman said the program "has been a long time coming."
"This is a very deep labor of love for me and when Emerson's former President Lee Pelton said yes, that he would approve the pilot, I was thrilled," she said.
The professor explains that behind the walls, the thirst for knowledge was abundant.
"When we worked with the applicant pool, people who were applying for admission into the program, I saw people who wanted space to cultivate the life of the mind," she told WBZ.
Once the classes started, it reaffirmed to her that this was going in the right direction.
"So walking in that first day, they were so excited to get started in college and so nervous about it too, and I was as well because I was thinking, 'Is this going to work? Is this experiment going to work?'" she said.
Well, not only is it working, but this past September, EPI had their first commencement.
"Each of the graduates gave speeches, talking about the role of education in their own lives and it was powerful. I mean people were crying, the audience was crying," Gellman said.
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