For certain classes faculty member Annabel Davis-Goff teaches, she drives 50 miles from campus, arrives an hour early, goes through a metal detector, submits her belongings for inspection, and is escorted to her classroom. These are the classes she teaches at Great Meadow Correctional Facility, a maximum-security prison in upstate New York, and the home of Bennington’s nascent prison education initiative launched in 2015.
“It’s like teaching every other course,” she says. Except for in the ways that it is not. “The difference is when you have spent two hours talking about Joseph Conrad among courteous, thoughtful, mature students …the conversations are of a very high, interesting level, then the class ends and you are aware your students are going to be escorted by a guard and locked up in their cells.”