Jun. 24 2014

Inmates of the New York prison system are offered an opportunity to get a college education in New York’s Hudson Valley through Bard, the elite liberal arts college located in the town of Annandale-on-Hudson.  A collaboration of the Mailman School Department of Sociomedical Sciences and Bard Prison Initiative (BPI) started in 2010 when faculty members including Robert Fullilove, EdD, professor of Sociomedical Sciences, began teaching in the program. Currently, Dr. Fullilove is the senior advisor to BPI for public health programs and, in this capacity, he is helping with the development of a public health concentration within BPI, in addition to teaching. BPI recently held its 11th commencement at the Woodbourne Correctional Facility, where it awarded an associate in arts degrees to 36 students. This past May, a BPI graduate received his MPH degree at the Mailman School.

Begun as a pilot program with 15 students, BPI now enrolls 275 incarcerated New Yorkers and offers a Bard College education inside three maximum-security prisons—Coxsackie, Eastern New York, and Green Haven; and three medium-security prisons—Fishkill, Taconic, and Woodbourne. Fullilove has taught for six semesters at Woodbourne, and lectured at Eastern, Green Haven, Coxsackie, and the women’s facility, Taconic, bringing the number of facilities where he has taught as part of the Bard program, to five. In fall 2014, Fullilove will teach a semester at Taconic Correctional Facility.

Fullilove, who is also associate dean of Community and Minority Affairs at the Mailman School, focuses his research on the cultural and structural dimensions of HIV and sexual health-related risks among ethnic and sexual minority urban populations. This includes: sexual health, bisexuality, masculinity, street culture, sexual cultures, and the impact of the intersections of gender, race/ethnic and class power inequalities in young men's health. He has been an active participant in the conversation on the benefits of putting a public health lens on incarceration in the U.S., most recently, serving as moderator on the panel, Innovations in Education at the Mailman School’s two-day Incarceration Conference:  “A Public Health Approach to Incarceration: Opportunities for Action.”

Watch BPI Commencement video.