Cerro Coso student Patrick Larmour is one of twenty-six Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society (PTK) members to have his writing published in the 2019 issue of PTK's online literary journal, Nota Bene.
Nota Bene, Latin for "note well," is Phi Theta Kappa's honors anthology. It recognizes outstanding writing of Phi Theta Kappa members and demonstrates to the literary public the academic excellence and commitment to scholarship found at colleges. The first issue of Nota Bene was published in 1994. More than 550 entries were submitted to the 2019 competition, that was judged by current and retired college faculty and staff from across the country. The digital issue is available at ptk.org.
As a student in Cerro Coso's Incarcerated Student Education Program, Larmour's writing entitled "Catalyst: How College is Changing the Culture Inside Prison," is a testimony to the changes he has witnessed in prison culture since the college began offering classes. He explains, "where 'doing time' once meant gambling and getting high to avoid boredom, it now means hurrying to class, meeting with study groups, flipping through textbooks, or cramming for a midterm. For those of us enrolled in college, idle time is a thing of the past. We're simply too busy to waste time with prison politics or petty arguments."
His story is not unique. Imprisoned for half of his life, many inmates like Larmour simply languish in prison, lacking quality services such as education, employment training, and drug treatment. Most are released to their communities without transitional support to acquire jobs, housing, health care and education
Recidivism studies have demonstrated repeatedly, that those who receive a college education while in prison fare better when they rejoin society than those who do not. They are less likely to re-offend, more likely to find employment, and to become active and productive members of their communities..
Higher education in prison is an investment in public safety. It enables those who have been incarcerated to rejoin society as responsible neighbors and productive co-workers.
"I wish to say thank you—on behalf of the incarcerated members of Phi Theta Kappa—to the educators, the policy makers, as well as to the taxpayers who made these college programs available. You have given us a chance to return to society as better people with brighter futures, and we plan to repay you by being better sons, better fathers, better husbands, and better neighbors," Larmour concluded in his writing.
Higher education can open minds, and in prison, it can change lives.
A full copy of Larmour's writing is available at ptk.org.
Phi Theta Kappa is the premier honor society recognizing the academic achievement of students at associate degree-granting colleges and helping them to grow as scholars and leaders. The Society is made up of more than 3.5 million members and nearly 1,300 chapters in 11 nations, with approximately 250,000 active members in the nation's colleges.