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Prison-to-College Pipeline Program
University of Mississippi

The PTCPP at Parchman, Part 1

Dr. Otis W. Pickett (left) and Dr. Patrick Elliot Alexander (right) visited the Fannie Lou Hamer Memorial Garden and Fannie Lou Hamer Memorial Statue in Ruleville, Mississippi, prior to the first Prison-to-College Pipeline Program (PTCPP) course taught at Parchman/Mississippi State Penitentiary in Summer 2014, “‘Justice Everywhere’: The Civil Rights Stories of Martin Luther King, Jr., Fannie Lou Hamer, and Barack Obama.”

The Prison-to-College Pipeline Program (PTCPP) was co-founded in 2014 by Dr. Patrick Elliot Alexander and Dr. Otis W. Pickett. We started the Program because we both love learning and learners and we believe that meaningful learning happens everywhere—even behind prison walls. Moreover, we both were serious about making a bold, education-based, ethically-responsible response to the incarceration epidemic in Mississippi. We both knew, through our prior research and teaching experiences (in prison and at universities) the profound role that student-centered prison education has played not only in reducing recidivism, but also in positively transforming isolated prison environments and the post-imprisonment outlooks and outcomes of imprisoned students. We wanted to bring that transformational education culture to prisons in the state of Mississippi in a way that spoke to the specific educational goals and intellectual curiosities of college-level and college-aspiring students who happened to be imprisoned. That is what we have been doing since summer 2014. So our shared passion for learning, learners, and enduring social transformation bound the two of us together in teaching literature and history during the past several summers at Parchman/Mississippi State Penitentiary, which is the oldest of Mississippi’s prisons currently in operation.