Jon Marc Taylor has photocopies of his four college diplomas taped to the wall of his Missouri prison cell. The latest one, a doctorate in public administration from Kennedy-Western University in California, arrived Aug. 3. Taylor, 43, is a two-time rapist who is believed to be the only prisoner in America to receive his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees behind bars at a maximum-security prison, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “It’s an exceptional achievement,” said Steve Steurer, executive director of the Correctional Education Association in Lanham, Md.
After 24 years in prison in Missouri and Indiana, Taylor is trying to use his education as a springboard to freedom. He not only has the attention of the academic world, but Taylor has attracted some heavy hitters in the political arena. It’s all in an effort to persuade Gov. Bob Holden to grant him clemency before Holden leaves office Jan. 10. Holden, who lost a re-election bid, has recently granted clemency to 23 defendants, including three murderers. The Missouri woman whom Taylor raped, Joan Gibson, died of a brain aneurysm 11 years ago. But her husband – who was robbed and held captive during the attack on his wife – is outraged that Taylor would get the ear of the former senators.