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Culture

Making a Difference: Prison to College Pipeline

There seems to be a problem in the black and Latino community where when a prisoner is released from prison, they end up falling right back into the institution. Instead, these offenders should be successfully sent back into the community; this process is called recidivism. Two professors named Dr. Otis Pickett and Dr. Patrick Alexander designed a way to enforce recidivism the right way. I’m sure everyone has heard of the school to prison pipeline. Well, Pickett collaborated with other educators like Alexander to design a Prison to College Pipeline in Mississippi. A place where racism has now and always been very active.

Pickett is a Caucasian Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Mississippi-Tupelo campus. At their new faculty orientation, he met Dr. Patrick Alexander, an Assistant Professor of English and African American Studies. Alexander has experience with tutoring students and teaching at correctional facilities. Pickett thought it would be a great idea to join forces with Alexander to work with incarcerated learners. Once they joined forces, they designed a program for incarcerated individuals who have received their high school diploma or GED to enroll in college level courses.

Pickett and Alexander received a grant from The College of Liberal Arts at the University of Mississippi to start the Prison to College Pipeline program. In June of 2014 they started their pilot program and from then on it has been a success. Now, there is a program for incarcerated women that is being taught by Dr. Stephanie Rolph of Mississippi's Milsaps College. The Prison to College Pipeline has continued to expand over the past three years with the support of the University’s president, faculty and staff members. Change starts when you have a passion for something that you truly believe in.

One’s passion will not die because it has a purpose and a plan for success. This program is something that is needed in every state because our prison system is out of control. The current system is designed for black and Latino prisoners to stay in prison and/or get sent back to prison. With this program incarcerated individuals that are released will have a greater change of staying out of prison with a college degree in their hands. They also have an opportunity to prove themselves to everyone that doubted them.

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