Contacts: HBO New York: Lana Iny or Jessica Driscoll (212)512-1462 or 1322
HBO Los Angeles: Nancy Lesser (310)382-3274
Hudson Link Executive Director: Sean Pica (914)941-0794
Nyack College: Deborah.Walker@nyack.edu or (845)675-4430
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sean Pica, 2001 Nyack College Alumnus
In March 31 HBO Documentary, “The University of Sing Sing”
NYACK, NY--Transformation from the inside out is the result of a college education provided to prison inmates enrolled in degree programs provided by institutions who partner with Hudson Link for Higher Education, a non-profit organization based in Ossining, NY and founded in 1998. In 2001, Hudson Link and Nyack College held their first commencement ceremony at Sing Sing Correctional Facility.
“The University of Sing Sing,” follows students pursuing a college degree through the Hudson Link program at Sing Sing. The riveting documentary premieres Monday, March 31, (9:45-10:30 p.m. ET/PT), exclusively on HBO. Other upcoming airings are April 2 (12:15 p.m., 4:00 a.m.), April 5 (3:00 p.m.), April 8 (4:30 p.m.), April 13 (9:30 a.m.), and April 18 (11:15 a.m.).
Today some 334 incarcerated men and women in New York State facilities are enrolled in degree programs, funded by private donations, that offer the same curriculum offered to residential college students at five Hudson Link partners—Nyack College (now at Fishkill Correctional Facility), Mercy College (at Sing Sing Correctional Facility), Siena College (at Greene Correctional Facility), SUNY Sullivan Community College (at Sullivan Correctional Facility), and Vassar College (at Taconic Correctional Facility). More than 300 college degrees have been conferred since 2001.
Hudson Link Executive Director, Sean Pica, in the 2001 Nyack College graduating class at Sing Sing, now spearheads the program, and appears in “The University of Sing Sing,” which chronicles the personal transformation that occurs when inmates encounter redemption and a reason to hope. The inmates featured in the film have taken full advantage of the opportunity for self-improvement. One who recalls his early days in prison as being “in an ocean of despair” now says “Hudson Link revived me and gave me a second chance at life.”
The remarkable outcome of this prison education initiative is that Hudson Link has a less than 2% recidivism rate among released graduates; New York State’s is 40%. Drawing the attention of a broad spectrum of supporters, including social activists, the business community, and film and television celebrities, the Hudson Link program is thriving. Supporters include actor Ice-T (Law and Order:SVU), business icon Warren Buffet, and social activist Harry Belafonte.
Pica, who was incarcerated when he was just a teenager, calls the program essential for successful re-entry into society after prison. In the film, he asks, “Do you want them the same way they went in, or worse? Or do you want them changed and thinking about what they’ve done, and educated and looking to make a difference in their lives?”
In a powerful display of critical thinking and research skills that equip the inmates for educational pursuits, a student debate was held at Sing Sing Correctional Facility in fall 2012 with mixed teams of students from Nyack College, Mercy College, and inmates enrolled in the organizational management degree program.
“The University of Sing Sing” was directed by Tim Skousen; produced by Robert Fernandez and Tim Skousen; executive produced by Dan Levinson; co-produced by Karol Zeno; edited by Geof Bartz, Mitch Gerbus and Tim Skousen; director of photography, Ed Stephenson. For HBO: supervising producer, Jacqueline Glover; executive producer, Sheila Nevins.
ABOUT NYACK COLLEGE
Nyack College was founded in 1882 by Dr. Albert Benjamin Simpson and currently serves 3,100 students in its undergraduate and graduate degree programs. In addition to its residential campus in Nyack, NY and a commuter campus in historic Battery Park, an extension site is located in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Nyack is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools and is chartered by the Board of Regents of the University of the State of New York.