Joyce Dixson

Joyce Dixson

Joyce Dixson

Joyce Dixson

In 1991, Joyce Dixon became the first woman to earn a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan while in prison.1 She had been convicted for killing her abusive partner in 1976. During her prison stay, Dixson discovered that male prisoners were offered educational opportunities that female prisoners were denied. With the help of lawyers, Dixson and others filed a lawsuit against the Michigan Department of Corrections and the court ruled in favor of the women. Because of their efforts, community college classes and a four-year program were started for women prisoners in Michigan. Dixson took advantage of the program and received her bachelor’s degree, as well as a paralegal degree, which allowed her to assist many women prisoners through her work in prison legal services. Dixson’s conviction was eventually reduced from first to second-degree murder and she was released in 1993. She began a master’s program at the University of Michigan in social work following her release. Joyce Dixson was responsible for improving the educational opportunities for women in Michigan prisons. Her success has given inspiration and hope to many dispirited women.

1 http://www.ssw.umich.edu/ongoing/97-ws/dixson.html