FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Nyack College with Hudson Link to Confer 24 Bachelor’s Degrees at
Fishkill Correctional Facility Graduation
Alumni Stories Are Proof of the Partnership’s Success
NYACK, New York—On Thursday, January 22 at Fishkill Correctional Facility, 24 graduates will receive the Bachelor of Science degree in organizational management from Nyack College under the auspices of a partnership between the College and Hudson Link for Higher Education in Prison. The noontime ceremony will be held at the medium security prison for men located at 18 Strack Drive in Beacon, NY.
Nyack College President Dr. Michael Scales will preside over the ceremony for this second Fishkill cohort. To date, 76 students have earned Nyack College degrees from the Hudson Link program, founded in 1998 when New York State and federal funding for prison education was discontinued. “We are delighted to be a part of this personally transforming program that infuses tremendous hope in the lives of the incarcerated,” says Dr. Scales.
The power of the restorative approach to criminal justice was expressed eloquently at the 2014 ceremony (pictured above) by the cohort's valedictorian. After opening his speech with a corporate apology from the inmates for the pain they have caused others he said, “Thank you to all of those who did not give up on us and who believe that we can make a positive situation out of our dire circumstances.”
This year’s commencement speaker is Jeffrey Deskovic. Deskovic was wrongfully convicted of a crime and after serving 16 years in prison, was exonerated and awarded $40 million by a federal jury. He is the founder of the Jeffrey Deskovic Foundation For Justice, a 501(c)(3) organization committed to the prevention of wrongful convictions both in DNA and non-DNA cases and the reintegration of exonerees.
The first Nyack College/Hudson Link cohort of 17 men graduated from the Sing Sing Correctional Facility program in 2001; not a single student from the 2001 class has returned to prison–representing a 100% success rate. The recidivism rate of Hudson Link programs is less than 2% compared to the national rate of 43%.
Success stories include most notably Nyack College alumnus Sean Pica, a graduate of the 2001 program, who serves as the executive director of Hudson Link. Pica has gone on to earn his master’s degrees in professional studies and social work. In 2014, he was named to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Council on Community Re-Entry and Reintegration, a taskforce that will address obstacles formerly incarcerated people encounter following release from prison.
Other successful Nyack College/Hudson Link grads from the class of 2001 include: Darryl Butler, studying for his graduate degree in social work and now a Hudson Link intern; five others who have earned their master’s degrees in social work; John Conyers, founder and executive director of the non-profit, Saving our Society; and Thomas Ryer, executive director, Public Affairs and Advocacy for the Men’s Empowerment Network.
Nyack College was founded in 1882 by Dr. Albert Benjamin Simpson and currently serves more than 3,300 students in its undergraduate and graduate degree programs. In addition to its residential campus in Nyack, NY and a commuter campus in New York City, 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. For more information about Nyack College, visit www.nyack.edu.
About Hudson Link for Higher Education in Prison
Ossining, NY-based Hudson Link provides college education, life skills, and re-entry support to incarcerated men and women. When New York State and federal funding for college education in prisons was discontinued in the late 1990s, a group of Sing Sing inmates appealed to churches and educators for help to restore the college education programs. Funding and grants from foundations as well as religious institutions provided donations that established a program in partnership with Nyack College. The program first launched in 2000 at Sing Sing. For more information, visit www.hudsonlink.org.