Up the River: How a College Degree Helps Give Men and Women a Second Chance
by Joseph Brown
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For many incarcerated in Ossining, New York’s Sing Sing prison, the freedom granted to them after serving their sentences is illusory: Within three years, 42 percent of New York’s released inmates will find themselves locked up again, or “up the river” — that is, the Hudson River, upon which the prison sits, and from which the saying is derived.
Re-entry into the workforce can prove unforgiving to former inmates. The stigma surrounding the past of these men and women can render job-hunting an almost futile exercise, and since many were first incarcerated as teenagers, they lack the formal education to effectively enter the competitive job market. Indeed, 61 percent of inmates have fewer than eight years of education. Without other options, many return to crime — and find themselves up the river again.