In celebration of the November 25 premiere of Lynn Novick’s four-part documentary film series College Behind Bars on PBS, we are looking back at our recent pre-screening at L.A. City Hall. Watch our video to see what you missed!


In this era of mass incarceration, America is the world’s largest jailer, with more than 2 million men and women behind bars; 630,000 are released annually, and nearly 50 percent end up back in prison within five years, trapped in a cycle of imprisonment, release and re-incarceration. As one Bard Prison Initiative (BPI ) student states on camera, “Prison is to punish. It’s not about creating productive beings. Individuals are not being prepared for anything other than what they’ve already been doing – crime.”

The film, which airs on PBS on November 25th, is Lynn Novick’s directorial debut and is produced by Sarah Botstein and executive produced by Ken Burns. “This film challenges conventional wisdom about education and incarceration, and raises quest ions we urgently need to address,” Novick said. “What ultimately is prison for? Who in America has access to educational opportunity? Who among us is capable of academic excellence? How can we break the cycle of recidivism? How can we have justice without Redemption?”

The Michelson 20MM Foundation is dedicated to supporting and investing in leading organizations, technologies, and initiatives that seek to transform learning and improve access to educational opportunities that lead to a meaningful career. Michelson 20MM was founded thanks to the generous support of renowned spinal surgeon and inventor Dr. Gary K. Michelson and his wife, Alya Michelson. Visit us at