The University of Sing Sing

Monday, March 31, 2014

In 1998, five former inmates founded the privately funded Hudson Link for Higher Education, which enables incarcerated men and women to earn a college diploma. Since partnering with Mercy College, Sing Sing prisoners are able to receive the same curriculum and diploma as on-campus students. Sean Pica, a former inmate who helped found and runs the Hudson Link for Higher Education, and Timothy Skousen, director of the film “The University of Sing Sing,” discusses the transformation that occurs when inmates receive not only a college diploma, but also a chance at redemption and a reason to hope. “The University of Sing Sing” debuts on HBO March 31.


Sean Pica and Timothy Skousen

Comments [7]

Albert Martínez from Bronx

The creator of this film, Tim Skousen is a scoundrel. He bamboozled my family to be part of this documentary by making us think this was a non-profit project with all the proceeds going to the Hudson Link program. It turns out that it has since been commercialized for personal gain on HBO and now with DVD sales. What's worst is that I've tried to contact Mr. Skousen to have my family removed from film and he won't even return our messages. My brother is still incarcerated, but unfortunately he signed a release and nothing can be done. My family and I luckily didn't sign any release and now we are forced to seek legal help to sue these people. Thank you Tim for adding more heartbreak to my poor elderly parents whom have been through enough.

Mar. 07 2015 03:51 PM


I'm sorry that you didn't pay any attention to the documentary. The prisoners don't get a free ride. They also have to pay for the education and the program is entirely funded by private groups who see the value in doing this. By stating that "the only way to stop recidivism is for the man not to commit more crimes" is sort of like saying "the sky is blue because it is blue." I look forward to your future as the new Captain Obvious.

Furthermore, here is a program that costs normal citizens no money and has a massive tax savings every year in the million of dollars for the people of New York. Are just against second chances? Or do you want to incarcerate more people? Or are you just a misanthrope? Or maybe you want to pay more in taxes to keep people incarcerated. I don't understand.

Apr. 02 2014 11:34 PM
Alex from Brooklyn

The only way to be against programs like Hudson Link is to be so irrationally anti-prisoner that you don't care that these programs do so much good.
Those who are bitter about not getting more help for college themselves should turn their focus to political leaders and demand more help. It does not have to be a zero-sum game. We should all have better access to higher education, but it's so much important for those of us who are already wards of the state. Taxpayers are paying for them one way or another--let's do something that will have us paying less in the long haul and keep us safer.
BTW, of course an Assistant District Attorney is not going to hear an admission from a defendant. But that is quite different from what you hear in prison, where many prisoners have taken responsibility for the actions that got them there.

Mar. 31 2014 01:40 PM

this is so one sided it is incredible. the only way to stop recidivism is for the man not to commit more crimes.
i agree that prisons need to help men, but most prisoners are released without even a GED, they come out with poor to no work habits, and have no real work skills. that is the problem that should be addressed.

if men are in prison and want to take college classes, why don't they get a loan that they must pay back when they are released? this idea that they get a free ride is what is wrong. they need to apply for grants that must be paid back when and if they are released.

Mar. 31 2014 01:00 PM
Rosemarie Gift

So pleased that this documentary has been made. I've toured Sing-Sing,met Sean and prisoners in the program and left them humbled. When you see a cell block, you understand punishment. Seems to me a healthy society wants more than punishment. To have people returned to society as mature, viable citizens makes sense to me. The recidivism rate proves crime is not stopped by punishment alone

Mar. 31 2014 12:59 PM
Ann from Bklyn

I was an ADA for 10 years. Defendant's never accept blame for their crimes. It's always someone else's fault. Just like the man who "thought his brother was going to be hurt".

Mar. 31 2014 12:57 PM
Amy from Manhattan

How did Mr. Pica & the other founders convince the college to offer the courses at such a low cost?

Mar. 31 2014 12:52 PM

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