Six men who were locked away behind bars are receiving a second chance.
According to The Associated Press, Yale and the University of New Haven were responsible for conducting a graduation ceremony in a prison, where the six men received degrees as a part of the Yale Prison Education Initiative (YPEI) at Dwight Hall at Yale.
A news release states the partnership was formed thanks to the support of a $1.5 million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in an effort to provide degrees to incarcerated students and career opportunities after graduation.
“We believe that this is a transformative program, that it has the potential to make a generational impact,” said S. Zelda Roland, Ph.D., founding director of the Yale Prison Education Initiative and director of the partnership, according to The Associated Press. “We believe that we’re transforming not just individual student’s lives, but also the institutions that we work in, both the universities and correctional system.”
For Marcus Harvin, one of the graduates, his achievement follows a six-year period behind bars at the MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution for drunk driving, which injured his two young children. Although he’s not sure what’s next, his newly-earned degree gives him hope for the future.
“It literally is the light at the end of the tunnel that gives the day illumination,” Harvin explained, The Associated Press reports. “Because when you get to those classes, you don’t feel like you’re in prison. You actually go from being in a cell to being kind of, sort of on a campus. You literally feel like you’re not in the same place anymore.”
Harvin received an associate degree in general studies from the University of New Haven and plans to pursue a career as a defense attorney.
Congrats to all of the graduates!
Gov. Ned Lamont, who was the graduation speaker said, “We define our own futures and today is the start of that. You learn from the past, but you define your own future. And what happens in your future is going to be your legacy. And I want you to have a really important story to tell.”