The mission of the Cornell Prison Education Program (CPEP) is to provide courses leading to college degrees for people incarcerated in upstate New York State prisons; to help CPEP students build meaningful lives inside prison as well as prepare for successful re-entry into civic life; and to inform thought and action on social justice issues among past and present CPEP students, volunteers, and the wider public.
We believe in equitable access to higher education and the transformative power of intellectual development.
Our work supports a regional collaboration that brings together Cornell faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate assistants to teach a free college-level liberal arts curriculum to a select group of inmates at Auburn Correctional Facility, Cayuga Correctional Facility, and Five Points Correctional Facility. The credits can be applied toward an associate's degree from Cayuga Community College, or additionally, for an exceptional sub-set, a Cornell Certificate in the Liberal Arts.
CPEP is dedicated to supporting incarcerated persons’ academic ambitions and preparation for successful re-entry. We believe that Cornell faculty and student engagement as instructors at correctional facilities manifests Ezra Cornell’s commitment to founding an institution where “any person can find instruction in any study.”
Help teach a Cornell University course in prison!
Teaching Assistant Eligibility
All graduate students and sophomores, juniors and seniors are welcome to support classes as teaching assistants. (Freshmen are encouraged to wait until their second year on campus to apply.) We typically have 45-50 teaching assistants in the prison classrooms each semester. TAs facilitate discussion, tutor students in writing & math, participate in classroom dialogue, help instructors prepare lectures and materials, etcetera.
Course Instructor Eligibility
If you are a doctoral student who has passed the ‘A’ exam, you are eligible to submit a proposal to teach your own course in the prisons. We are able to subsidize seven doctoral candidates as instructors each semester.
Faculty members and postdoctoral fellows are encouraged to volunteer as instructors.
All those interested should contact Executive Director Rob Scott (rs965) or Senior Coordinator Betsye Violette (erc87) to discuss the opportunity.