A sense of freedom mixes with education at Tennesee Prison for Women, where incarcerated students in Lipscomb’s LIFE Program learn alongside members of the univeristy’s on-campus student body.

“It’s like we are no longer in prison when we come down here for only a couple of hours,” states Molly, an inside student from the LIFE Program. 

The LIFE Program, or Lipscomb Initiative for Education, takes courses that are in the university curriculum that would normally be on campus and relocates them to the women’s prison, the Debra Johnson Rehabilitation Center. 

Students from Lipscomb’s campus are invited to go take classes at the prison with their incarcerated classmates.

The goal of the LIFE Program is to replicate a college experience in unusual circumstances. 

“It was a huge blessing because I had tried three times to get into the LIFE Program,” Evette states. “I grasped the fact that I would be here for a while and wanted to make my time here useful. I decided that I wanted to come back better than I came in.” 

Several women in the LIFE Program have completed their curriculum and will receive their diplomas.

This shows them, their family, and the community that they have worked hard, have been committed to this, and have succeeded in ways they may not have imagined several years ago. 

“I want to go all the way and get my Ph.D,” Evette said. “A year before it’s time for me to go home, Lipscomb creates a scholarship. This happened for a reason and I want to be a part of it!” 

The LIFE Program will continue empowering both inside and outside students through education while building fellowship with the community that has already begun. “We are around people who accept us fully human,” Said Molly.

“This is our community and fellowship, we are not treated less than.”

Photo by Kathryn Farris

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