©2019 BY YALE PRISON EDUCATION INITIATIVE AT DWIGHT HALL AT YALE. PRIVACY POLICY

Student volunteers at the Dwight Hall Bike Shop helped a group of young men referred by the Juvenile Court to learn mechanical skills and the economics of small business. These young men would come weekly to repair and overhaul bicycles.

1970s

Dwight Hall Bike Shop

Founded by Yale Law School students and still in operation, the Green Haven Prison Project is a bimonthly reading seminar on legal and political issues run jointly by Yale Law School students and incarcerated members of Project for a Calculated Transition (PACT) at Green Haven Prison in New York State.

1979

Green Haven Prison Project Founded at Yale Law School

The Volunteers in Probation program enabled volunteers to work with a probationer one on one. The volunteers worked under the guidance of the Probation Department and sought to develop a positive relationship with the probationer and to assist him where necessary.

In the Volunteers in Court Program, the volunteer replaced the Probation Officer in court and completed intake on individuals on probation.

1970s - 1980s

Volunteers in Probation / Volunteers in Court

The Halfway House served individuals in need of a supportive living situation. The residents were accepted from psychiatric hospitals, prisons, reform schools, as well as from the general community. The program encouraged the residents to become responsible for their own lives and to become self-sufficient members of the community.

1970s-80s

Halfway House - New Haven

Juvenile Justice was a broader Dwight Hall project that enabled Yale students to volunteer as probation officers, get involved with children through the New Haven Family Counseling Service, or work as a specific child’s advocate. 

1980s

Juvenile Justice

Yale faculty and graduate students participate in college in prison programs elsewhere, including at the Bard Prison Initiative (founded 2001) and Wesleyan's Center for Prison Education (founded 2009), and begin teaching not-for-credit courses of their own in prisons around the state, including James Forman, Jr. who began teaching an "inside-out" class at Manson Youth Institution in 2016. 

2000s-2010s

Participants in College in Prison

Yale PhD Candidate, Zelda Roland convenes a roundtable of undergraduates, faculty, graduate students, and formerly incarcerated members of the Yale community who are interested in forming a new program to bring access to Yale College courses to incarcerated students.

March 2016

Roundtable on Yale College in Prison Program

YPEI becomes an official program of Dwight Hall at Yale, beginning a two-year effort to develop a real, rigorous, program that brings access to real, rigorous, credit-bearing Yale classes to incarcerated students in Connecticut.

September 2016

YPEI Officially Formed at Dwight Hall

YPEI becomes a member of the Bard Prison Initiative's national Consortium for the Liberal Arts in Prison. Through the Consortium for the Liberal Arts in Prison, BPI collaborates with colleges and universities to catalyze, launch, and sustain college-in-prison programs across the country. Together these leading institutions are challenging expectations of inclusive excellence while redefining the boundaries of success for people in and returning home from prison.

2016-2017

YPEI joins Consortium

In partnership with Yale Summer Session and Yale School of Art, YPEI offers its first classes to incarcerated students at Manson Youth Institution, a prison for young adults and juveniles sentenced as adults, and at MacDougall-Walker, a high/maximum security adult prison and the largest in New England, where 600 people asked to be considered for our first YSS seminar, "English S120: Reading and Writing the Modern English Essay."

May 2018

YPEI's first Yale Courses

Our History

YPEI was officially founded in 2016 by Yale alumna Zelda Roland (BA '08 PhD '16) and offered its first for-credit courses in the summer of 2018 at MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution and Manson Youth Institution. This marked the first time any incarcerated student anywhere had ever enrolled in real Yale College credits.

But YPEI followed on decades of Yale student and faculty volunteer work to support education access in prison, and to provide resources for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated citizens in our city and state, particularly through Dwight Hall, Yale's Center for Public Service and Social Justice, YPEI's home today.

Scroll below to learn more about the long history of Yale service in criminal justice, prison reform, and abolition.

Are you a part of this history? We want to hear your story! Write to us so we can include you or your group in our timeline.