Seventeen Inmates at Mississippi State Penitentiary Graduate from Prison-to-College Pipeline Program

> Jackson – Seventeen inmates at the Mississippi State Penitentiary (MSP) graduated today from an innovative partnership with the University of Mississippi.
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> The University of Mississippi Prison-to-College Pipeline Program helps students imprisoned at MSP who have attained a GED or possess a high school diploma to smoothly transition to college coursework. In accordance with the University of Mississippi’s core value of devoting knowledge and abilities to serve our state and world, faculty and former faculty from the University serve as the program’s primary instructors.
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> The Prison-To-College Pipeline Program is designed to teach college preparatory courses in history, literature, academic and creative writing. Sponsored by the University of Mississippi, the program began at the Pre-Release Program at MSP on June 2, 2014 and is taught in a manner that will ensure students’ success in any college-level course in the humanities. Each offender completed a course interest inventory before admission to the program.
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> The course instructors are Dr. Patrick Alexander, Assistant Professor of English & African American Studies at the University of Mississippi and Dr. Otis Pickett, Assistant Professor of History and Director of the B.S.Ed. Program at Mississippi College.
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> “Students at Parchman wanted to take real university classes,” said Dr. Alexander, who taught in the North Carolina prison system while he was a graduate student at Duke University. “The University of Mississippi very explicitly expressed an interest in supporting, administratively and financially, any professors willing to teach at Parchman.”
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> “It was an incredible opportunity to learn with and from the men at Unit 25 this summer. Together, we studied the history of the Civil Rights movement, we examined important literature coming out of that context from Martin Luther King, Jr. and Fannie Lou Hamer and we discussed the concept of seeking justice everywhere,” said Dr. Pickett. “I hope the Prison-to-College Pipeline Program can grow such that every incarcerated individual in the state of Mississippi will have the opportunity to take college level coursework from university professors.”
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> “Part of the MDOC mission is to provide effective treatment and education for offenders,” said MDOC Commissioner Chris Epps. “I congratulate the offenders who successfully completed this program.” Epps added, “These are opportunities for offenders to continue positive behavior as they reenter our communities. This not only makes our communities safer, it will save taxpayer dollars in the long haul with lower recidivism rates. I appreciate the partnership with the University of Mississippi. And to the professors and MSP staff, I commend you for your contributions to this achievement.”