College Behind Bars

College Behind Bars is the inspiring, emotional, deeply human story of men and women struggling to earn college degrees while in prison for serious crimes. In four years of study they become scholars, shatter stereotypes, reckon with their pasts, and prepare to return to society. A groundbreaking exploration of incarceration, injustice, race in America, and the transformative power of education.

Program Website

Funding for College Behind Bars is provided by Bank of America; PBS; Ford Foundation / JustFilms; National Endowment for the Humanities; Meg & Tomas Bergstrand; Regina K. Scully; The Lise Strickler & Mark Gallogly Charitable Fund; a fund at The New York Community Trust; Patty Quillin through the Meadow Fund at Silicon Valley Community Foundation; Barbara & Richard Novick; Chicken & Egg Pictures; The William H. Donner Foundation; Hartley Film Foundation; Bertha Foundation; The Harnisch Foundation; Compton Foundation; and Lisa Philp; and members of The Better Angels Society: John & Catherine Debs, The Cousins Foundation, Inc., Abrams Foundation, Schwartz/Reisman Foundation, Ted Dintersmith & Elizabeth Hazard, McCloskey Family Charitable Trust, and Donna & Dick Strong

Recent Episode

Part 3: 'Every Single Word Matters'

57:33

The debate team faces rival West Point, and the students’ senior projects get underway.



Full Episodes View All Episodes

Part 4: 'Home is a Work in Progress'

57:29

As graduation nears, students grapple with the past and some face the realities of release

Part 1: 'No One Ever Taught Me Any of That.'

57:53

Meet the incarcerated students enrolled in one of America's most rigorous college programs

Part 2: 'I'm Trying to Get Home to My Family, Too.'

56:52

Learn more about the students' personal stories and the challenges of college in prison.