The Bard Prison Initiative debating team just keeps winning. The Wall Street Journal reports:
The debate team of New York prison inmates who beat Harvard College last fall had another triumph Friday, this time against the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.A spokesman for the state corrections department confirmed that all three judges voted for the men in a maximum-security prison. They are students in the Bard Prison Initiative, which offers a rigorous college program at the Eastern New York Correctional Facility in the Catskills.… The Bard program, begun in 2001, gives liberal-arts educations for free to inmates who make it through a competitive screening process. Its officials say its graduates leave with marketable skills and less than 2% have returned to prison in three years, the metric for measuring recidivism. It is funded mostly through private donations.
The extraordinary success of these debates—who, it should be remembered, made grave mistakes earlier in their lives—points to a number of important truths that are sometimes neglected in our society: That many young people have tremendous untapped potential that can be unleashed with the right mentorship and support; that the college admissions system is not and has never been a particularly good filter for talent; and that our society should be thinking about ways to give a second chances, where possible, to people behind bars who have earned it. I am proud of my colleagues for making this program possible, and hope that it will continue to inspire people around the country and the world.