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Saturday, June 15, 2024

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The Supreme Court throws out a Trump-era ban on gun bump stocks; a look at how social media algorithms and Shakespearian villains have in common; and states receive federal funding to clean up legacy mine pollution.

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The Supreme Court for now protects access to abortion drug mifepristone, while Senate Republicans block a bill protecting access to in-vitro fertilization. Wisconsin's Supreme Court bans mobile voting sites, and colleges deal with funding cuts as legislatures target diversity programs.

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As summer nears, America's newest and largest international dark sky sanctuary beckons, rural job growth is up, but full recovery remains elusive, rural Americans living in prison towns support a transition, while birth control is more readily available in rural areas.

Boston U. Prison Education Program celebrates 50 years of changing lives

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Monday, April 22, 2024   

Boston University's Prison Education Program is celebrating its 50th anniversary, and is hoping to expand.

Students at Massachusetts Correctional Institution Norfolk and MCI Framingham are earning undergraduate certificates and Bachelor of Liberal Arts degrees, to reform their lives and find ways to give back to their communities upon release.

Program Director Mary Ellen Mastrorilli said it offers hope for a better self, and her students are eager to learn.

"They're highly motivated," said Mastrorilli. "They're not afraid to work hard. They do their assignments. They're just, in some ways, the ideal student."

Mastrorilli said there's a misconception that educating people in prison is being soft on crime, but research shows these programs reduce misconduct and cut the likelihood of recidivism nearly in half.

That may be due to the better job prospects and higher wages that formerly incarcerated people with education experience.

It's also one reason Mastrorilli said she hopes the program will expand - and why even more universities, including Tufts and Emerson, are growing their own prison initiatives, and giving students a second chance.

"The prison education classroom is a space where they get to claim their humanity and their dignity," said Mastrorilli. "And it's easy to understand how personal growth will come from that."

Students in Boston University's program have earned more than 400 bachelor's degrees in the past few decades alone.

Mastrorilli said the undergraduate certificate program has also become increasingly popular with people serving shorter sentences, and for those unsure if they can handle the degree program workload.

She said it's important to judge her students not by their crimes, but as human beings with unlocked potential.

Support for this reporting was provided by Lumina Foundation.





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