James Jeter

Yale Prison Education Initiative
Founder of the Dwight Hall Civic Allyship Initiative

(203) 432-9286

James Jeter is a New Haven native and alum of the Wesleyan Center for Prison Education at Cheshire Correctional Institution, where he spent nearly 20 years incarcerated. With Wesleyan, he completed 20 credited college courses, and was a member of the Lifers Program, where he worked with at-risk youth, helped raise money for local food banks, and worked with the Hartford Police Chief to address gun violence in Hartford. Through this work, while still incarcerated, he fostered relationships with the Mayor of Hartford’s Chief of Staff, members of the Department of Justice’s Project Longevity Task Force, and the CEO of the Hartford Community Loan Fund, his employer post-release.

At the HCLF, James worked as a policy analyst, working on state and federal policy around banking and housing. In the time since his release, he has served on the board of Wesleyan’s Center for Prison Education, has been honored with the 100 Men of Color Distinction, led participatory budgeting with Hartford City Council, and has returned to Cheshire Correctional Institution to speak to residents of its TRUE Unit. James is dedicated to the cause of prison education and has sought opportunities to apply his own experience to benefit those still incarcerated or returning home.

About Us: YPEI was officially founded at Dwight Hall in 2016 by Yale alumna Zelda Roland (BA '08 Ph.D. '16) and offered its first for-credit courses in the summer of 2018 at MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution and Manson Youth Institution. This marked the first time an incarcerated student anywhere had ever enrolled in real Yale College credits.

But YPEI followed on decades of Yale student and faculty volunteer work to support education access in prison, and to provide resources for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated citizens in our city and state, particularly through Dwight Hall, Yale's Center for Public Service and Social Justice, YPEI's home today.