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Graphic by Allie Goulding

Catherine Kim, Reporter
October 5, 2018

CREST HILL — For 37-year-old inmate Tony Triplett, life often felt “colorless.”

He is serving a life sentence in Stateville Correctional Center after being convicted of raping and killing two women in 2006. Triplett, who claimed innocence, said he struggles to remember he is more than just a prisoner with an assigned number.

On July 30, Triplett walked into an interview with officials from Northwestern University and the Illinois Department of Corrections with a new sense of hope in the air. Clutching a purple NU folder, which he said made him feel more like a student, Triplett answered questions about literature and systematic oppression for 15 minutes.

Now, he is one of 22 Stateville inmates in the Northwestern Prison Education Program, an initiative launched this fall. The program, spearheaded by philosophy Prof. Jennifer Lackey — who has independently taught classes at the prison in the past — allows inmates to learn and receive credits through the School of Professional Studies.

“I want to be able to show my children that this is what I’m doing in prison here. I’m not just rotting here,” Triplett said.

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