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7 Inmates Makes History, the First to Earn College Degree From Yale Prison Education Initiative

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Seven offenders in New Haven, Connecticut, have earned an Associate Degree in General Studies as part of the Yale Prison Education Initiative, a collaboration between Yale University and the University of New Haven.

According to Scripps News, this achievement is a significant milestone for the program, which has enrolled 70 students in college credit courses so far.

The Yale Prison Education Institute began teaching jailed children at the Manson Youth Institution in May 2018. With the engagement of the University of New Haven in 2021, the program grew dramatically, resulting in the formation of a degree-granting program for jailed inmates.

Participants in the program received associate degrees and have the option of pursuing bachelor’s degrees.

Over 130 instructors, staff, and graduate students have given their time and energy to educating these students, which has contributed to the program’s success.

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont delivered an emotional commencement speech at the graduation ceremony, saying, “I loved hearing the pride you have in yourselves and what this ceremony is all about. I heard from most of you that you define your own futures. You learn from the past, but you define your futures. I believe so much in this program and what it means.”

Alpha Jalloh, who is serving time at the MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution, achieved the highest GPA in the class.

“I stand here proudly, but sadly, as the first person among my group of friends to earn a higher degree,” Jalloh said. “This program has enabled us to dream in different ways we never thought possible. It nourishes the soul and pushes us to find our place in this world.”

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