Dwight Hall Bike Shop
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.
Green Haven Prison Project Founded at Yale Law School
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.
1970s - 1980s
Volunteers in Probation / Volunteers in Court
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.
Halfway House - New Haven
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.
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.
Participants in College in Prison
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.
Roundtable on Yale College in Prison Program
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.
YPEI Officially Formed at Dwight Hall
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.
YPEI joins Consortium
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.
YPEI's first Yale Courses
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."
YPEI announced partnership with University of New Haven
In April 2021, an award from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation launched ad a collaboration between the Yale Prison Education Initiative and University of New Haven to create a degree-granting program for incarcerated students in Connecticut. Read more here and here.
YPEI was officially founded at Dwight Hall 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.
You can read more about YPEI's beginnings and first offerings at this article in the YaleNews.
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.