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Airline travel and more disrupted by global tech outage; Nevada gets OK to sell federal public lands for affordable housing;Science Moms work to foster meaningful talks on climate change; Scientists reconsider net-zero pledges to reach climate goals.

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As Trump accepts nomination for President, delegates emphasize themes of unity and optimism envisioning 'new golden age.' But RNC convention was marked by strong opposition to LGBTQ rights, which both opened and closed the event.

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It's grass-cutting season and with it, rural lawn mower races, Montana's drive-thru blood project is easing shortages, rural Americans spend more on food when transportation costs are tallied, and a lack of good childcare is thwarting rural business owners.

Prison-to-College Pipeline Program empowers men at Parchman

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Monday, June 3, 2024   

A program in Mississippi is increasing access to educational opportunities for those behind bars.

The University of Mississippi's Prison-to-College Pipeline Program offers students at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman the option to take college courses and earn credits.

Patrick Elliot Alexander, associate professor of English and African American Studies and director of the program, said the initiative goes beyond reducing recidivism rates, explaining the courses prioritize equitable education and intellectual growth for this underserved population.

"These courses are team-taught, student-centered. They've been humanities-based. We've taught courses in the fields of history, English and African American studies, and ranging from topics like Shakespeare, the history of Africa," Alexander outlined. "There's a great course going on right now teaching people how to write about their lives."

The program was founded in 2014 and offers a spring course and a summer course. Mississippi has one of the highest incarceration rates in the country, with more than 1,000 people in prison per 100,000 residents.

The College of Liberal Arts at the University of Mississippi and the North Carolina-based Laughing Gull Foundation provide funding for the program. Alexander is thankful to the university and provost for waiving tuition.

"There's an interest now in expanding, at least doubling, what we offer," Alexander noted. "What that means for us is the relatively small number of students that we were serving per year, no more than 50 but usually more in the ballpark of 35, might increase."

Alexander shared the words of Barry Catrer, who already had an undergraduate degree and took history courses at the penitentiary prior to his release in 2015.

"When I got out, I realized it was the program, the Prison-to-College Pipeline Program, that gave me the self-confidence to know that my life wasn't over," Alexander read. "Just because I was a convicted felon, just because I was in my mid 50s. It gave me the self-confidence to believe in myself that there were opportunities out there for me."

Alexander added the program extended its reach in 2016 to include women at the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility, thanks to the efforts of his colleague, Otis Pickett. However, challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic made it difficult for the program to continue.


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