Investments in higher education in prison provide hope for a second chance in life, help reduce recidivism, increase prosocial behaviors, and break the cycle of poverty.
To investigate the transformational power of prison education programs, Western Nevada College will be joined by “College Behind Bars” film director Lynn Novick, Bard Prison Initiative alumnus Dyjuan Tatro, Nevada Second Assistant Attorney General Christine Brady and others for a free, virtual event Thursday, Feb. 4.
WNC’s Higher Education in Prison Program provides access to higher education and workforce education for the underserved population of incarcerated men at Warm Springs and Northern Nevada correctional centers and currently serves about 100 students.
To highlight efforts of the program and its impact within the context of a national conversation about higher education in prison, the college is presenting “A Community Conversation: The Power of Prison Education and Community” on Thursday from 5 to 6:30 p.m. The event includes a virtual screening of short reels from Ken Burns’ “College Behind Bars” and a live Q&A panel.
Featured panelists are Novick, Tatro, Brady, Vincent Solis, WNC president, and two WNC graduates who earned their associate of general studies degrees while incarcerated.
Nevada Department of Corrections Deputy Director of Programs Harold Wickham will provide opening remarks. Deb Conrad, Higher Education in Prison Program director and assistant to Solis, will serve as the event’s moderator.
“WNC strives for equity, diversity and inclusion for all students and that includes our incarcerated students,” Conrad said. “We offer workforce education pathways that lead to meaningful careers, as well as offering a transfer pathway for those who wish to pursue a four-year degree. With the restoration of Pell grant access for incarcerated students, four-year degrees are within our line of sight for the correctional centers.”
HEPP’s vision follows the college’s mission: To be an integral and innovative educational partner fostering equity and a life of learning in an inclusive environment for the evolving, diverse communities we serve. The program strives to always be student centered, inquiry driven and data informed, and provide educational pathways for students.
Novick is an Emmy, Peabody and Alfred I. duPont Columbia Award-winning documentary filmmaker. For 30 years she has been directing and producing landmark documentary films about American culture, history, politics, sports, art and music for the Public Broadcasting Service. In collaboration with Burns, she has created more than 80 hours of programming, including “The Vietnam War,” “Baseball,” “Jazz,” “Frank Lloyd Wright,” “The War” and “Prohibition.”
Tatro serves as the Government Affairs officer at the Bard Prison Initiative. As a BPI alumnus, he leverages his education and experience to further criminal justice reform through increased public investments in college in prison. He formerly acted as the criminal justice policy adviser to Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney and is an active member of The Fortune Society’s Board of Directors. Originally from Albany, N.Y., Tatro currently resides in New York City, where the city council has honored him for his work in criminal justice. Of note, Tatro was a member of the BPI debate team that defeated Harvard in 2015.
Brady serves as one of the top legal advisers to Nevada Attorney General Aaron D. Ford, overseeing the Criminal Prosecutions Unit, Bureau of Consumer Protection, Investigations, Medicaid Fraud and the Post-Conviction Unit. Brady’s career began in public service at the U.S. Government Accountability Office as a program evaluator, where she worked on teams to assess the efficacy of federally-funded programs. She later operated as the community relations officer for the Economic Opportunity Board of Clark County, advocating for low-income families and other vulnerable populations throughout Nevada. After she became an attorney, Brady was a legal clerk for the Honorable Patrick Flanagan, and later went on to practice law at the Washoe County Public Defender’s Office, where she worked for 10 years in areas including family court, misdemeanors and felonies. Brady is a graduate of the William S. Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Prior to that, she earned both a B.A. in political science and an M.A. in sociology by the age of 21 from Stanford University.
“College Behind Bars” is Novick’s solo directorial debut. It was filmed over four years in medium and maximum security prisons in New York. The film presents questions about our prison systems, such as what is the purpose of a prison?; who should have access to educational opportunity in our society?; who among us is capable of academic excellence?; and how can we have justice without redemption?
To RSVP for this free event, go to http://bit.ly/CBB_WNCRSVP020421.