When I was a senior at Princeton, decades ago, I decided to write my thesis on a little known Colorado Judge: Benjamin Barr Lindsey. Judge Lindsey believed that rehabilitation rather than incarceration was the best way to treat young people who had been convicted of a crime. When, after 35 years in the private sector, my college classmate Charlie Puttkammer called me to discuss his idea to support education in correctional facilities through the Petey Greene Program, I immediately saw the connection and the need. What goes around, comes around!
When we began the Program in 2008, you would seldom read or hear about individuals or organizations interested in education in correctional institutions. Happily, this is not the case today. Six years later, the Petey Greene Program continues to organize tutoring for students in high school equivalency and adult basic education courses, and we are now placing tutors with college-level programs as well. We have seen the organization expand dramatically, from 20 volunteers tutoring in one prison in 2008 to almost 300 volunteers from 11 schools tutoring at 10 facilities in New Jersey, Connecticut, and New York in 2014. Our goal is to reach more schools, more volunteers, more correctional facilities, and more students, to connect volunteers with valuable tutoring opportunities, and to help students in prison improve their classroom skills and their chances to successfully re-enter society.
To achieve this goal, this past year, we decided to expand the organization by hiring five Regional Field Managers based in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., and New Jersey. Aside from working to build new programs with universities, colleges, and correctional facilities in their regions, the Regional Field Managers are working to refine our program model and ensure that each of our programs has major positive impacts on both students and tutors. They have also designed a new tutor training program and developed new policies and documents to maintain high standards across all of our programs.
In these exciting times, the final words from my thesis are still appropriate:
These are the foothills of achievement, beyond lie the mountains.