We believe that the dehumanization and discrimination driving the U.S. justice system is a product of the nation’s history of white supremacy and structural racism. Our mission is to challenge these inequalities through educational programs and advocacy, while learning from and supporting others who share that vision.
At the heart of this work sits our dedication to work with formerly and currently incarcerated individuals and their families in their pursuit of educational, personal, and expressive goals. In the political arena, we contribute to social justice campaigns led by activists and organizations in Connecticut and beyond, always taking deliberate care to center the voices and experiences of those most affected by predatory and inequitable criminal justice policies. On campus, we promote dialogue around issues connected to mass incarceration with the hopes of engaging Yale community members in this work. We also support the development of a formal prison education program at Yale through our work with the Yale Prison Education Initiative.
History of YUPP
Founded in 2009, YUPP began as a criminal justice reading group for Yale students to educate themselves about the system of mass incarceration and to increase dialogue around the topic on campus. Shortly after the reading group was started, Yale students decided that they wanted to do more than just read about the issues: they wanted to be a part of the solution. As a result, in 2010, YUPP began the Manson Prison Education Initiative, an undergraduate organization that sought to provide incarcerated young men in the Manson Youth Correctional Facility with greater access to educational programming—particularly GED preparation. Over the past several years, Yale Undergraduate Prison Project has expanded to become an umbrella organization that encompasses all prison activism, advocacy, and reform efforts among the Yale student body.
Achieving Our Mission
YUPP runs a number of programs at both correctional facilities and community outreach centers in Connecticut. Our GED tutoring, seminar-style discussion-based groups, and mentoring programs impact over a hundred imprisoned or recently imprisoned individuals annually.
We believe the primary mission of our direct service programs should be to carve out a space within the prisons for incarcerated students to acquire key academic tools, ask big questions, cultivate leadership skills, and, more generally, to become empowered. We aim to help the underserved students of great potential achieve academic success, improve their futures, and become leaders both within and beyond the terms of their confinement. We hope to contribute to the development of a formal prison education program at Yale through the Yale Prison Education Initiative at Dwight Hall, in order to create a positive impact through college classes beyond our direct service.
YUPP has been recognized by both Dwight Hall and Bridgeport for our work. In addition to the educational programs we run each week, members engage in advocacy and activism on a state and national level. Each semester, YUPP also hosts a diverse group of speakers from fields and disciplines that intersect with issues connected to mass incarceration in order to promote our advocacy initiatives and raise awareness within the Yale and New Haven communities.