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Prison, punishment, and rehabilitation

By Roy Germano, Ph.D.

Prison is usually thought of as a form a punishment—and in most cases, it should be. But what if prison could also be a space for helping people rehabilitate and better themselves? The vast majority of people who go into the prison system will reenter society someday, so it’s in everyone's interest to consider this question. Wes Caines, today’s guest, makes a compelling case for thinking of prison as a space for rehabilitation and educational opportunity. In this conversation, Wes talks about what it was like to spend 25 years incarcerated in the New York State prison system. Although prison life was difficult, Wes was able to keep from going backward because he had the opportunity to participate in the Bard College Prison Initiative and earn two college degrees while serving out his sentence. Today, Wes is out of prison and a contributing member of society. He's become an important voice for criminal justice reform and advocate for college-in-prison programs like the Bard Prison Initiative. He tells an interesting personal story. He also makes a compelling argument for increasing funding for educational programs inside of prisons.

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