The Prison Reform and Education Project (PREP) was founded in November of 2013 as the Redemption Project. We began by lobbying for solitary confinement reform in New York State. Redemption Project members contacted members of the NY state legislature to lobby for the passage of the HALT Solitary Confinement Act, which creates rehabilitative alternatives to solitary confinement and limits the length of time inmates can be placed in solitary confinement.
During the Spring 2014 semester, our scope expanded to raising awareness and engaging the student body through a public film screening and quarter-carding campaigns. Over the Summer of 2014, we changed our name to the Prison Reform and Education Project (PREP) to further broaden our scope and reflect our expanded research and education role. Over the Spring of 2019, we transitioned to a general body and project-team structure in order to complement our increasingly ambitious goals.
During the 2015-2016 academic year, PREP organized and led a campaign to Ban the Box at Cornell University. The campaign led to Cornell's commitment to remove the conviction question from its job applications by July 1st, 2016.
During the 2018-2019 academic year, PREP worked with Cornell University Admissions to substantiate admissions policy and to create an admissions webpage dedicated to adjudicated applicants: visit here or email us directly with any questions about applying or being a student at Cornell.
During the 2019-2020 year, PREP continued it's advocacy and tutoring work. As meetings became remote, PREP still had biweekly meetings where members came together to discuss important criminal justice issues.
In the 2020-2021 year, PREP continued working with College Initiative Upstate and lobbied a bill to repeal the ban on Pell Grants within the Cornell administration. PREP also partnered with partnered with the Sexual Violence Prevention Network on campus to host a speaker event, and Cornell Votes! to engage general body members in a case study on voter disenfranchisement.
Most recently, PREP has created three new advocacy initiatives: Death Row Lobbying, Cornell Divestment, and Prison Education Tutoring and Outreach. PREP has also merged with the Parole Preparation Project at Cornell. On a state-wide level, the Parole Preparation Project is an organization dedicated to directly supporting incarcerated people prepare for their parole hearings. Last year, volunteers in Parole Prep released four people.
To humanize the American experience of incarceration and reentry.
To put an end to the Prison Industrial Complex (PIC) that has dramatically increased the number of U.S. prisoners, broken families, and shattered communities; and which has limited historically marginalized peoples’ access to adequate housing and education, cost taxpayers millions, and simultaneously failed to keep us safe. To do this, we seek to stop the expansion of correctional facilities by forcing empirical discussion about America’s broken system and advocating for the improvement of conditions in already existing prisons.
WHAT WE DO
PREP is organized around two pillars: education and advocacy. We strive to raise awareness on campus about issues relating to mass incarceration and criminal justice through biweekly discussions, public speaking events, and educational campaigns. We also lead and support direct actions around prison reform efforts in the immediate community and in the New York State legislature. To learn more about our projects this semester, click here.
PREP is also a part of the Cornell Criminal Justice Coalition, collective of student organizations dedicated to advocacy and justice.