https://d1n0c1ufntxbvh.cloudfront.net/photo/c91deb14/25887/740x/ found at https://www.themarshallproject.org/2017/09/13/from-prison-to-ph-d-the-redemption-and-rejection-of-michelle-jones
From Prison to PhD.: The Redemption and Rejection of Michelle Jones
By ELI HAGER SEPT. 13, 2017
Michelle Jones was released last month after serving more than two decades in an Indiana prison for the murder of her 4-year-old son. The very next day, she arrived at New York University, a promising Ph.D. student in American studies. In a breathtaking feat of rehabilitation, Ms. Jones, now 45, became a published scholar of American history while behind bars, and presented her work by videoconference to historians’ conclaves and the Indiana General Assembly. With no internet access and a prison library that hewed toward romance novels, she led a team of inmates that pored through reams of photocopied documents from the
Indiana State Archives to produce the Indiana Historical Society’s best research project last year. As prisoner No. 970554, Ms. Jones also wrote several dance compositions and historical plays, one of which is slated to open at an Indianapolis theater in December.
N.Y.U. was one of several top schools that recruited her for their doctoral
programs. She was also among 18 selected from more than 300 applicants to Harvard University’s history program. But in a rare override of a department’s authority to choose its graduate students, Harvard’s top brass overturned Ms. Jones’s admission after some professors raised concerns that she played down her crime in the application process.
Elizabeth Hinton, one of the Harvard historians who backed Ms. Jones, called her “one of the strongest candidates in the country last year, period.” The case “throws into relief,” she added, the question of “how much do we really believe in the possibility of human redemption?
A Prison Sentence Ends. But the Stigma Doesn’t.
OP-Ed By JAMES FORMAN Jr. SEPT. 15, 2017
Michelle Jones served 20 years in prison for a heinous crime: murdering her 4-year old son. During her two decades behind bars, Ms. Jones compiled a record of accomplishment that would be remarkable even for someone who had never been locked up. She published a scholarly article on the first prisons for women in the United States. She wrote a play that will open in December in an Indianapolis theater. She led a team of incarcerated women whose efforts won the Indiana Historical Society’s prize for best research project for 2016. Not best research project
by prisoners. Best project. Period.
All of this helped Ms. Jones gain admission to N.Y.U.’s doctoral program in
American studies, where she started last week. But Ms. Jones’s stunning record wasn’t good enough for top administrators at Harvard University, as this paper reported on Thursday. In a rare move, they overturned the history department’s admission recommendation and rejected Ms. Jones.