In the course of a group discussion, five student members of New York University’s Prison Education Program (PEP) reflect on their transition from prison inmates and students to their training as peer researchers in the PEP Research Lab. They trade their experiences of life on the inside, debunking a variety of public myths about the welfare and treatment of those caught within the prison system. Discussing their postcarceral roles as students and researchers, they analyze the differences between the two, drawing particular attention to the social status accorded to researchers. Building on the independence and resources offered by PEP’s Research Lab, they describe the initiatives they have taken to launch new paths of inquiry into carceral life and the financial and social burdens that continue to afflict the formerly incarcerated upon reentry.
From Prison to Researcher
Mychal Pagan is an emerging multimedia artist studying at NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study. He is a member of NYU’s Prison Education Program Research Lab, and he looks forward to a future in media and communications.
Aiyuba Thomas is a graduate student in NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Studies, and a member of NYU’s Prison Education Program Research Lab. His research and professional work are centered around the social and financial redevelopment of disenfranchised and marginalized communities, including those who have been impacted by the justice system.
Vincent Thompson recently graduated from the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis at NYU with a major in American studies. A member of NYU’s Prison Education Program Research Lab, he started Stopping the Cycle, a nonprofit organization that helps people avoid incarceration.
Zach Gillespie, Mychal Pagan, Aiyuba Thomas, Derick McCarthy, Vincent Thompson; From Prison to Researcher. South Atlantic Quarterly 1 October 2022; 121 (4): 854–859. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-10066552
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