Rhodes’ Film Screening and Panel Discussion to Show Impact of Education on Criminal Justice System

image of  an inmate holding books in a prison

Rhodes College’s Liberal Arts in Prison Program and WKNO-TV have partnered to present a screening and panel discussion of “College Behind Bars” on Tuesday, Nov. 19, 6-7:30 p.m.  Free and open to the public, the event will be held in McNeil Concert Hall on the college’s West Campus.

“College Behind Bars,” directed by Lynn Novick, is a four-part documentary film series. Award-winning filmmaker Ken Burns serves as executive producer. The film tells the story of incarcerated men and women pursuing college degrees and turning their lives around in the Bard Prison Initiative, which is a program of Bard College in New York. 

Since 2016, Dr. Stephen Haynes, professor of religious studies, has directed Rhodes’ Liberal Arts in Prison Program at the Women’s Therapeutic Residential Center (WTRC), a facility operated at the West Tennessee State Penitentiary in Henning, TN.

For 16 weeks in 2017, a group of Rhodes faculty members led book discussions called the “Great Books Reading Group” for female inmates at the WTRC. Readings included The Iliad by Homer, The Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius, and the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass, among others. 

Rhodes’ Liberal Arts in Prison Program began its first for-credit “Culture and Values” course in September 2019 with 20 incarcerated women at the WTRC. Attendees of the Rhodes/WKNO screening on Nov. 19 can learn more about the program, which will be followed by a panel discussion featuring the following individuals: 

  • LaTasha Thomas, a veteran of the Rhodes Liberal Arts in Prison Program who was paroled earlier this year
  • Madison Zickgraf, a Rhodes student currently working as a Teaching Assistant in the Rhodes’ Culture and Values course 
  • Trinity Minter, warden at the Women’s Therapeutic Residential Center 
  • Vicki Freeman, director of Women’s Services for the Tennessee Department of Correction

“College Behind Bars” is scheduled to air on PBS later this month.