BRYONN BAIN & CLAUDIA PENA help connect those who are currently incarcerated with post-secondary education through UCLA’s Prison Education Program. The program provides a shared collaborative space between students and experienced faculty in an effort to challenge discrimination, bias, and injustice.
Bryonn is not only the director of the program, but is also an associate professor in the University’s Department of African American Studies and the Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance. As activist and artist, his background in spoken word, hip hop, theater and film have been central to his work in prisons for over three decades. He’s written numerous books including “The Ugly Side of Beautiful,” and is known for the one-man show “Lyrics from Lockdown.” Claudia is the Prison Education Program’s faculty-in-residence. She is also the Executive Director of For Freedoms, a national arts organization that serves a platform for artists to model and inspire civic engagement. She’s on faculty at UCLA’s Law School and in Gender Studies and is a practitioner of transformative justice.
Their shared research and expertise in human rights, mass decarceration, critical race studies, transformative justice, trauma, healing and resilience-informed lawyering, among other social justice methods, also inform their work with the program. The accolades go on about these two, but they can speak for themselves on that.