Inmate believes he’s earned clemency

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by deanhughson, Dec 12, 2004.

  1. deanhughson

    deanhughson New Member

    Inmate believes he’s earned clemency
    By Kim Bell
    Of the Post-Dispatch

    Jon Marc Taylor earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees while in prison. He is serving a 40-year term for rape.
    (Rachel Callaway/Cameron Citizen-Observer)

    Story continues below ad Jon Marc Taylor has photocopies of his four college diplomas taped to the wall of his prison cell. The originals are at his mother's house somewhere, probably in storage.

    The latest one, a Ph.D. in public administration from Kennedy-Western University in California, arrived Aug. 3 in an oversized envelope at the Crossroads Correctional Center in Cameron, Mo. But Taylor never got to open it.

    Mail restrictions at the prison deemed the package too large for delivery, so his Aunt Alice picked it up on a recent visit and held it to the visiting window for Taylor to see. The prison made him a reduced sized photocopy for his wall.

    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 doctorate level degrees behind bars at a maximum-security prison.

    "This is so unique, we've never heard of anybody doing this before," said Steve Steurer, executive director of the Correctional Education Association in Lanham, Md. "It's an exceptional achievement."

    After a combined 24 years in prison in Missouri and Indiana, Taylor is trying to use his educational achievements 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.


    Reporter Kim Bell
    E-mail: [email protected]
    Phone: 314-340-8115
  2. deanhughson

    deanhughson New Member

    By the way, I think this guy may be the only person who has graduated from KW that can honestly say he hadn't heard about its problems since he probably doesn't have access to the internet.
  3. PaulC

    PaulC New Member

  4. BrittanySmith007

    BrittanySmith007 New Member

    public. public public. not trusting him there, the ability to acquire information address etc, makes it abit more ridiculous. I suppose he deserves the time he got, action delivers consequence. You must live up to your responsibilites not try to prove urself in another area. You see he failed in one area, normal socialization.
  5. DesElms

    DesElms New Member

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: Gregg L. DesElms <[email protected][redacted].com>
    - To: Steve Steurer, Executive Director, CEA <[email protected]>
    - cc: Kim Bell, St. Louis Post-Dispatch <[email protected]>
    - cc: Missouri Gov. Bob Holden <[email protected]>
    - cc: Letters to the Editor, Post-Dispatch <[email protected]>
    - cc: Post-Dispatch Corrections <[email protected]>
    - cc: Post-Dispatch Web Site Corrections <[email protected]>
    Sent: Saturday, December 11, 2004 9:58 PM
    Subj: Inmate Jon Marc Taylor and his alleged PhD
    • To the Executive Director of the
      Correctional Education Assocation
      in Lanham, MD; with a copy to the
      Governor of the State of Missouri
    Dear Mr. Steurer,

    In an article by Kim Bell that appeared on 12/11/2004 in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and on its web site at:you were quoted as follows:
    • "This is so unique, we've never heard of anybody
      doing this before," said Steve Steurer, executive
      director of the Correctional Education Association
      in Lanham, MD. "It's an exceptional achievement."
    regarding inmate Jon Marc Taylor's having allegedly obtained his PhD; and said PhD's evidence, among other factors, of Taylor's fitness for clemency.

    I read the entire article, and I confess that Taylor's more recent achievements, generally, seem remarkable. But I caution you to please not be too terribly impressed just yet. You need to know that while all of Taylor's undergraduate and masters-level work is from a reputable, accredited educational institution (Ball State University), his PhD is from the infamous Kennedy-Western "University," which, trust me, is barely more than a diploma mill.

    In the academic world, Kennedy-Western is universally reviled. Granted, it may not strictly be a true "diploma mill" since it actually does require at least some small amount of not-terribly-rigorous coursework before it will issue a diploma; but the amount and low quality of actual work required, and the outrageous amount of credit Kennedy-Western tends to grant for "life experience," makes it and all of its degrees the very laughing stock of the higher-education community.

    Moreover, Kennedy-Western is not accredited by any agency approved by the U.S. Department of Education and/or its Council for Higher Education Accreditation (; and Kennedy-Western has actually been ordered not to operate in at least one state; and any and all degrees it issues are illegal for use in states like Oregon that have enacted legislation intended to fight the growing diploma mill and fake degree problem.

    Last May, Kennedy-Western was one of the subjects of a comprehensive two-day hearing on diploma mills before the United States Senate's Committee on Governmental Affairs. Worthy of note was the testimony, on the second day, of U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Commander Claudia Gelzer, who did some undercover work for the Committee. To get a real feel for just how worthless and lacking in rigor a Kennedy-Western "degree" is, please read Gelzer's sworn testimony at:In addition, and for further confirmation of Kennedy-Western's moral bankruptcy and fundamental lack of ethics, please also read the sworn testimony in that same hearing of former Kennedy-Western employee Andrew Coulombe at:I have no idea if Jon Marc Taylor is rehabilitated. I certainly hope he is. His crime is egregious, and I would caution all concerned never to lose sight of the enduring devastation it wrought in the lives of his victims and their loved ones. I hear, loudly and clearly, the pain of his victim's widower, Mr. Gibson; as well as the disbelief of Kenneth Hassler, the prosecutor who put Taylor behind bars in the first place. But I also believe in the notion of redemption and would support the release of almost any prisoner who had really and truly turned his life around and was provably unlikely to be a danger to himself or others ever again. I pray that that is true about Taylor.

    And one could argue that even his bogus Kennedy-Western PhD (and whatever that says about him and his sense of ethics) will become a nearly moot issue when and if he follows-up on his stated intention to get yet another PhD from the fully-accredited Ball State University after (if) he is released... which is commendable, in any case.

    But there's an inescapable question that must be asked, here: After having completed fully-accredited degree work at the bachelor's and master's level and, therefore, knowing its kind of academic rigor; and now that we know from the aforementioned sworn Senate committee testimony how bereft of rigor any Kennedy-Western program is; is it really possible that Taylor could not have realized and fully understood that his doctoral "work" from Kennedy-Western was a joke? And if he did, then what does that say about him as he holds it out as yet another indicator of his rehabilitation and worthiness of clemency?

    I would argue that Taylor knows full well the lack of academic worth and status of his degree. If you'll notice in Ms Bell's article, Taylor characterized his distance-learning PhD (the one from Kennedy-Western) as somehow less prestigious than it might have been had it been earned on the Ball State University campus. But the provable fact is that a degree's having been obtained via distance-learning is, by itself, not an indicator of its quality. In fact, as long as a degree program is fully accredited by a U.S. Dept of Education/CHEA-approved agency, it is always at least as rigorous as its brick-and-mortar counterpart... usually even more so because of the extra reading required to compensate for the lack of in-person lectures, and the incredible self-discipline required of the student to stay on schedule.

    Mr. Taylor, I posit, knew perfectly well what he meant when he made that statement to Ms Bell. He knew that his Kennedy-Western degree was academically worthless, and that he would never be allowed to teach anywhere with it. So that's why he stated his intent to get another PhD from an accredited university if and when he is released.

    We should be asking, knowing what he knows about the worthlessness of his degree, what does his holding it out to the world as partial evidence of his rehabilitation say about Taylor's basic character? Is one's veracity not a factor worthy of consideration by parole boards and/or governors? In the State of Oregon, and certain other states which require that all degees claimed be fully accredited, Taylor's claim to his new PhD would be a crime -- and, therefore, a violation of his parole were he free at the moment.

    Were Taylor being considered for admission to the Bar, this, along with his crimes in the first place, would be considered by the Bar's ethics committee as a question of moral turpitude. Mr. Taylor is asking society to consider him sufficiently moral to first release him, and then to let him teach. It begs thoughtful reflection, to be sure.

    I have written to you because, in light of your quote in the aforementioned article, I felt you should know the truth. It is, further, my hope that by my having copied this message to said article's author and other editors, said truth will become known to all concerned parties before any important decisions about Taylor's future are made.


    Gregg L. DesElms
    895 J[redacted]
    Napa CA 94559

    PHONE: 1-8[redacted]
    FAX: (7[redacted]

    EMAIL: [email protected][redacted].com
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 12, 2004

    That is enormous, excellent work ; I know that KWU is possibly a mill, nevertheless, why you do not say furthermore, that Kennedy Western is:

    + Authorized/Licensed by Law to work, and having the status of a degree granting institution in Wyoming.

    +In addition, that in EE.UU, the States have the police authority to regulate the education

    +That accreditation is a voluntary category

    With all the authenticity information available, the government official can gave him a DUE PROCESS, a detail that is in the Federal Constitution, and also, applicable to every one State, for the reason that the 14 amendment commands that.:cool:

    Remembers, he is a prisoner, but the Constitution, take care of the bad citizens, the first-class people, and the person that want to regenerate.
  7. galanga

    galanga New Member


    As was Hamilton U. And, in other states, we have Alabama providing a license to Breyer State. BSU's president is listed as the head of the organization which includes BSU's accreditor; BSU used to issue dual degrees-- a BSU degree and a Saint Regis degree-- to its clients; BSU's other accreditor is AGC-USA which lists Richard Hoyer as its chief accrediting commissioner. So possession of a state license, sadly, doesn't always say much about an organization's merits.

  8. DesElms

    DesElms New Member


    Oy. Another Kennedy-Western apologist. :rolleyes:

    Do you really believe that the Wyoming imprimatur is impressive? For a person so easily able to recognize "enormous, excellent work," you certainly seem not to have done yours.

    Plus, ditto what galanga wrote... only with even more emphasis on the "o possession of a state license, sadly, doesn't always say much about an organization's merits" part.

    And this is relevant to a completely U.S.-based situation such as this in what way, again? One of the hallmarks of Kennedy-Western is its attempt to substitute for bonafide accreditation the old "you are judged by the company you keep" methodology. Coming here and citing the way EE.UU does things (and, by inference, the fact that EE.UU states may find Kennedy-Western acceptable) is part of that ridiculous and classic Kennedy-Westernesque reach.

    Ah, yes... yet another time-worn argument of apologists for unaccredited institutions. As with the other factors you cite, I didn't mention it in my email because it isn't relevant, and tends to artificially and meritlessly negate the very outweighing point I was trying to make. For someone with a monicker such as yours, you'd think that would have been obvious.

    Unaccredted institutions make this ridiculous argument all the time: "We're not accredited, but don't worry... we're still legal 'cause accreditation is voluntary." Extrapolated further:
    • "We actually choose the logic-defying route of not seeking the endorsement of accreditation agencies who could give our program the credibility it needs to bring us even more new students (and their money); or the credibility our degrees require in order to make our graduates who hold them more competitive in the marketplace. Yeah, we choose not to be accredited, so don't hold our decision not to free ourselves of that impediment against us."
    Gimmee a freakin' break, will ya'? :rolleyes:

    There are few things in life more fundamentally amusing than when someone comes here from a country where people can be locked-up for years without even being charged and presumes to lecture us about due process.

    And as a prisoner, he is disenfranchised -- and from a helluva lot more than just voting. So don't imbue him, here, with rights he may or may not actually have. Let's not forget that this sonofabitch took a gun and terrorized people with it; took from a woman her most intimate choices and rights with utter disregard for her sense of well being or that of her loved ones; and he violated her in the most awful manner possible and left her never the same again, with nightmares and involuntary re-lived moments that haunted her until her final breath. And it wasn't the first time he'd done so. He did not do these things for want of an education. His Ball State undergraduate and postsecondary credentials -- and most certainly his bogus Kennedy-Western PhD -- was not what stood between him and his horrific impulses... nor, I strongly suspect, do they now. He's got more than three decades left to serve.

    This is all supposed to be hard for him.

    Step off, Doc. You're startin' ta' piss me off.

    [Mumbles to self under breath: "F_cking Kennedy-Western shill. Can't live with 'em; can't kill 'em.]
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 12, 2004
  9. Great!

    DUE PROCESS , my friend.
  10. DesElms

    DesElms New Member

    Ooooh. Ouch.
  11. uncle janko

    uncle janko member

    Don't cry for me, Wyoming

    I don't think the Constitution discusses regeneration...or mill shills playing the "dumb American" game, either.
  12. PhD2B

    PhD2B Dazed and Confused

    Couple this statement with the following statement:

    "Taylor, 43, is a two-time rapist..."

    It kind of makes one wonder what he really got his PhD from K-W in...:confused:
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 14, 2004
  13. DesElms

    DesElms New Member

    Your inference being, of course, that with all that life experience at rape, where could KW"U" have possibly found enough relevant life experience to grant a PhD in anything other than... well... rape. Cute.

    Actually, his "PhD" would appear to be in Public Administration. Let's hope it's not in the public administration of... well... you know. Hey! With a credential like that, he could work for the IRS! [Okay, that's enough kidding around]
    • Jon Marc Taylor’s degrees:
    • Doctor of Philosophy, Public Administration, Kennedy-Western University, Thousand Oaks, CA, 2004
    • Certificate in Military History, Ball State University, Muncie, IN, 1992
    • Master of Arts, Executive Development for Public Service, Ball State University, 1990
    • Bachelor of Science, History, Ball State University, 1988
    • Associate of Arts, General Studies, Ball State University, 1984
    Actually, we probably shouldn't be making all these flip remarks. This is a pretty serious issue, all 'round, when you think about it. For his victims and their families, and for the prosecutor, it's one kind of serious. For those lobbying for his clemency, it's another. All make valid points -- all of which deserve thoughtful, contemplative and soul-searching consideration.

    I have heard back from Stephen J. Steurer, Ph.D, Executive Director of the Correctional Education Association (CEA), to whom I addressed my email (a copy of which I posted herein, above). He cc'd all the same people that I originally cc'd -- including the newspaper -- leading any reasonable person to assume that his words were for public consumption. Why, therefore, in light thereof, I did the honorable thing and asked him if I may post his reply in a forum such as this where Taylor's fate was being discussed, I will never know. Chalk it up to my anally-retentive and often self-defeating sense of right and wrong, I suppose.

    As the reader has probably figured out, Steurer said "no," in largest measure so that he will not have to respond to alot of email directed his way from those reading his words and wishing to take issue with him.

    There is nothing ethically wrong, however, with my loosely summarizing what he wrote. And so that his wishes may be honored, I would ask people not to send him any emails in response. Instead, just respond here and I'm sure he'll eventually read what you have to say.

    First, Steurer wanted it to be very clear that all he had done when he gave the quote to Ms Bell was comment about the fact that someone had obtained a PhD while behind bars, regardless of the school; and that he was unaware of anyone else ever having done that. Nothing more. He also wanted me to know that he had no idea, really, whether or not Taylor deserved clemency; and that that was a matter for the governor to decide.

    But then he launched into a tone fairly defensive of Taylor and his educational accomplishments, irrespective of the institutions involved; citing his having read Taylor's doctoral dissertation and finding it "quite good."

    He closed by pointing out how much success his organization has had with rehabilitation of inmates through education; that research shows that a society's investment in behind-bars education is worthwhile and enhances public safety by helping to stave-off recidivism; and that I should think about those things "as well as whether or not Mr. Taylor graduated from a fully accredited university."

    And I, for one, find his points -- all of them -- valid... and most of them even sound.

    That having been said, in a recent discussion with John Bear, and as is documented nicely in his upcoming book, "Degree Mills," fake or sub-standard degree grantors have been around for the better part of two millennia; and every 20 to 25 years or so during the past century there have been small flutters of outrage about diploma mills... with a concomitant outcry to do something about them. Yet they persist, even stronger today than ever before.

    Perhaps it is the willingness of even educational experts like Dr. Steurer to dismiss the relevance of a person's substandard credentials as long as there are other mitigating factors that helps to explain why.

    Just a guess.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 14, 2004
  14. uncle janko

    uncle janko member

    Some folks should be MORE anal-retentive

    What utter bullroar. Mr Taxman (Herr Steurer) says that it's OK to encourage prisoners to lie and deceive (KW research specialities, I guess) because in-prison education cuts down on recidivism. As a former prison chaplain, don't shit on my shoes and tell me it's shinola.

    Thank you, Gregg, for debunking this piously self-congratulatory hoolerei.
  15. DTechBA

    DTechBA New Member

    This sounds like fodder for Snow


    Maybe your letter should also be sent to Senator Snow. I am sure she would be less than thrilled that a mill degree was being used as a reason to get people out of jail. I worked in 2 jails and am less than enthused with almost everyone's "rehabilitation". Everyone gets religion in jail many for no other reason than it gets them away from their cells and in the custody of people more than willing to overlook their transgressions. Neither is his getting a couple of degree's a notable feat. If I had the time on my hands that he does I would have all kinds of degrees. However, I have to get mine while sharing my time with work, a family, leading a Cub Scout pack, sitting on a government commission and serving in a couple of political and civic organizations. Many on here perform similar community work and still manage to improve their education. From this perspective his "achievements" are pretty weak and could simply be self serving attempts to get out of jail early. Imprisonment has 2 purposes, punishment and rehabilitation. Just because you may be rehabilitated does not mean you have served your punishment. To make matters worse in Taylor's instance, his crime was not an economic crime that could be attributed to a need for money to take care of himself or a family. His was a crime of violence solely intended to serve his needs and violate the victim. No sympathy for him here...
  16. Bill Huffman

    Bill Huffman Active Member


    I was going to respond to this Defender of Fraud myself but your response provided sufficient catharsis.

    Thanks, :D
  17. uncle janko

    uncle janko member

    Paraphrasing Lloyd Bentsen...

    Just because Hitler flunked art school and Stalin got booted from seminary doesn't prove much.

    One thinks of a Ph.D. graduate of Heidelberg University (the original, not the knockoff in Tiffin, Ohio). To paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen's famous rejoinder to Dan Quayle, "Inmate Taylor, you're no Dr. Joseph Goebbels." Just because you have a degree doesn't mean you're not an evil monster.

    Let this vicious brute get all the degrees he wants. Just let him pay for it himself and enjoy his accomplishments while he rots in prison.
  18. DesElms

    DesElms New Member

    Whatsay make doubly-sure that we're really being fair, here...

    Because I am convinced that there are people who read threads like this, and post therein, but who don't actually read (or who at least don't read carefully} the linked-to article in the thread-starting post; and because I want to just make sure that the salient issues on both sides are adequately presented and reminded, let's review...

    The anti-clemency crowd reminds us that for all of Taylor's seemingly remarkable achievements while in prison, one should be ever-mindful of what he's in prison for in the first place. Here's the most relevant text from the original article, but with some minor reorganization, enhancements and added emphasis just to make things crystal clear to the reader:
    • Twenty-four years ago (in 1980) Jon Marc Taylor, now 43 (then 19), took part in a scheme with his father, Jay Taylor, now 71 (then 47), that ended in their threatening and taking control of three people at gunpoint; binding and blindfolding them, and then locking two of them in a linen closet; then ransacking their victims' home and taking $100,000 in cash and other valuables; and, finally, forcing the third victim, who had not been locked in the linen closet, to perform oral sex on one of them, and then submit to being raped.

      Here's what happened: The elder Taylor, using the alias Gordon Grayson, carried phony business cards that listed him as president of an oil company in Salt Lake City, UT. Posing as a wealthy home buyer, he asked Kansas City, MO real estate agent Leona Monroe to show him and his alleged college student son (Jon Marc Taylor) some "high-end" Kansas City-area homes in the $200,000 to $300,000 price range.

      On the morning of March 23, 1980, Monroe brought the elder Taylor, and his alleged college student son, Jon Marc Taylor, to the home of Ray and Joan Gibson -- a respected couple in Platte County, Missouri. Ray was a real estate developer; Joan was a TWA flight attendant. Everyone was introduced and Monroe began to show the Gibson home to the Taylor men, as any good real estate salesperson would do.

      Then, suddenly, the elder Taylor pulled out a gun and told Monroe, the real estate agent, to lie on the floor. Ray Gibson, the homeowner, thought it was a toy gun and didn't move at first. Then Jon Taylor, the younger of the two assailants, pulled out a much larger gun -- a .357-caliber Magnum -- and announced, "This is no toy. Get on the floor now." Finally realizing this was no joke, the terrified Monroe and the Gibsons complied.

      The elder and younger Taylors bound the three victims' hands with plastic handcuffs and taped their eyes shut. They herded Ray Gibson, the homeowner, and Monroe, the real estate agent, into a downstairs linen closet and blocked the door with a couch. The Taylors then ransacked the home and took about $100,000 in cash and valuables, including furs, paintings and silver.

      At some point during the ransacking, Joan Gibson, the homeowner who had not been placed into the downstairs linen closet with her husband and the real estate agent, but who was still bound and blindfolded, was taken upstairs and forced to perform oral sex on one of the men. Then, she said, she was raped by the younger of them: Jon Marc Taylor.

      At his trial, the younger Taylor, Jon Marc -- who is the subject of this thread -- denied any involvement. He claimed he was at home in Indianapolis at the time. But jurors didn't buy it, and he was convicted and sentenced to 15 years for rape, 15 years for sodomy and 10 years for robbery -- all three sentences to run consecutively, for a total stretch of 40 years.

      Though he had denied involvement in 1980, during telephone interviews for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch article linked-to in the thread-starting post, Jon Marc Taylor finally admitted that he robbed the Gibsons back in 1980. But he claims it was his father, Jay, who raped Joan Gibson.

      Jon Marc Taylor now also admits that after he committed above-described crime against Monroe and the Gibsons in Platte County, MO., but before he was caught by police for them, he also raped a leasing agent in Indiana. He was quickly caught, charged, tried, convicted and sentenced for that Indiana crime -- and denied, at the time, having done it, too.

      The elder Taylor, Jay, was convicted of the rape and robbery in Platte County, MO, and got an 80-year sentence. But he didn't have to serve that sentence because, in 1987, the Missouri Court of Appeals ordered him released from those charges because prosecutors had taken too long to bring him to trial. It is nevertheless worthy of note that at the time the appeals court made that decision and issued that order, the elder Jay Taylor was in a California prison serving time for an unrelated attempted murder conviction. He was freed in 1990 and now lives in New Mexico.

      The younger Jon Marc Taylor served his time in an Indiana prison first -- roughly 12 years of a 30-year sentence for his Indiana rape. That sentence ended prematurely when, in 1993, an Indiana judge who characterized Taylor's postgraduate work as a remarkable example of self-rehabilitation, ordered his release. But Platte County (Missouri) sheriff's officials were ready, and they met Taylor at the exit gate of the Indiana prison and hauled him back to Missouri to begin his 40-year sentence for what he did to Monroe and the Gibsons even before the Indiana rape.

      It is that prison sentence that he is now serving in the Crossroads Correctional Center in Cameron, Mo -- about 50 miles North of Kansas City (MO); and it is that prison sentence which he still as 33 years left to serve; and it is that prison sentence from which Taylor supporters wish to have him freed by means of clemency issued by (lame-duck) Missouri Governor Bob Holden.

      The man who sent Taylor to prison, former Platte County Prosecutor Kenneth Hassler, says he hopes Taylor's college achievements don't overshadow the ugliness of the crime.

      "I don't think we should give preference to smart criminals over dumb criminals," Hassler said. "I can't imagine why they would want to assist someone who committed a crime like this. It certainly gives the wrong impression to society."

      The same year that Taylor was released from the Indiana prison and began serving his Missouri sentence, Joan Gibson, the woman Taylor raped in the 1980 Platte County crimes, died of a brain aneurysm. But her husband, Ray Gibson, who was helpless in the closet while his house was ransacked and thousands of dollars worth of cash and other valuables was stolen from him, and while his wife was being raped upstairs, where he could not hear her screams, is outraged that Taylor would get anyone's sympathy or support for his clemency. He believes that those -- especially men among them -- who support Taylor "should put the boy (Taylor) in a room with their wives" for a little while.

      "They need to study his background some," Gibson said of Taylor. "If they could have [just] seen my wife's face... it affected her deeply."

      Gibson says his wife never got over the rape and horrific events; and still seems frightened by Taylor.

      "He and his father threatened to kill everyone when they got out," Gibson said. "They made a lot of threats throughout the years. That's what I'm concerned about. I want him to serve his time because he deserves every bit of it."

      But Taylor wants the world not to think about any of that.

      "I take full responsibility for the crime because I stood there and acquiesced," Taylor said, reminding that it was his father, Jay, and not he, who actually raped Joan Gibson in 1980. "I did despicable deeds, but I haven't killed anybody. And for the last 23 years, I've tried to make myself a better man."

      After a combined 24 years in prison, first in Indiana, and now in Missouri, Taylor is trying to use his educational achievements as a springboard to freedom, saying that Governor Holden should release him (grant him clemency) as a reward for becoming a changed man in prison... like the judge in Indiana did in 1993. If Holden doesn't grant him clemency, Taylor said: "...frankly, I think it's an indictment [of] rehabilitation. Somebody called me the poster child for clemency. If I can't get it, who can? If I can't get it, what does that say to the other men and women in prison trying to turn their lives around?"

      Taylor has never apologized to his victims because, he says, he never had the opportunity and never had their address to send a letter. Besides, he said, it could be viewed as harassment and his lawyer warned him against "stirring the hornet's nest." He said he would like to apologize. "I'm sorry for the tragedy I've imposed on their life," he said.
    (Continued in next post...)
  19. DesElms

    DesElms New Member

    (Continued from previous post...)

    Those supporting Taylor's clemency ask us to balance all of the above against the following:
    • Taylor's admittedly-impressive publication vitae is nine pages long and lists scores of articles published in academic peer-review journals such as the Journal of Correctional Education. His work has appeared in numerous newspapers, and he wrote the press kit for Ball State University's college extension program at the Indiana reformatory.

      Taylor's honors include the Nation/I.F. Stone and Robert F. Kennedy journalism awards (student category) for his reporting on prisoner education. He wrote a 341-page "Prisoner's Guerrilla Handbook to Correspondence Courses in the United States and Canada," which sells on the Internet for $28.95 (prisoners get a $3 discount).

      The Prison Journal, which was started by the Pennsylvania Prison Society, America's oldest prison reform organization, has mailed manuscripts to Taylor to review. He says he's the only person on the journal's review board who isn't a tenured professor.

      While Taylor discovered his passion in prison, people on the outside began discovering him.

      Ross Van Ness, a Ball State University professor who taught at the Indiana Reformatory, was Taylor's mentor as he sought his bachelor's degree. "It soon became obvious to me he stood head and shoulders above the rest," Van Ness said. "His IQ must be off the charts. I've compared him to the Bird Man of Alcatraz."

      "This guy is phenomenal," said Chuck Terry, an assistant professor who teaches at St. Louis University and began corresponding with Taylor several years ago. "He's got to be on fire to be doing what he's doing. And everything this guy's accomplished, he's doing it all without access to a research library, or computers, or research assistants."

      The late U.S. Senator Paul Simon, D. IL, discovered Taylor while dealing with a subject about which they were both passionate: Pell grants for prisoners. Simon, before his untimely death, was so impressed by one of Taylor's op-ed pieces on the subject that was published in The New York Times that Simon had the article inserted into the Congressional Record on Sept. 12, 1994. When the Record was published, Simon sent an autographed copy to Taylor in prison. Simon signed it, "With gratitude."

      Former U.S. Senator Thomas Eagleton, who has, in the wake of Simon's death, has taken-up Simon's push for Taylor's clemency. Eagleton told Missouri Govenor Bob Holden in his letter Nov. 2, 2004: "I am amazed that a prisoner could get a B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. degrees while still being a prisoner. I hope you will consider this matter." Eagleton also admits that he does not know Taylor, nor is terribly familiar with the nature of his crimes or his concomitant prison sentences.

      Academics from Massachusetts to Manitoba have sent letters on collegiate letterhead to Missouri Governor Bob Holden, arguing that Taylor has virtually no chance of committing another crime if freed. Howard Davidson, editor of the Journal of Prisoners on Prisons, said based on the risk prevention index of the Federal Judicial Center, Taylor has a 91.6 percent success rate. "...[and] I dare say this is a conservative estimate," Davidson said.

      Taylor's list of degrees and certificates is listed in my earlier post, herein. His most recent "achievement" -- his $7,000 PhD in Public Administration from Kennedy-Western "University" -- is unquestionably from a sub-standard institution that is barely more than a degree mill. Nevertheless, when asked about that by St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter, University spokesman David Gering denied such an allegation, saying that the 20-year-old university provides "rigorous, academically challenging" degree programs. In any case, Stephen J. Steurer, Ph.D., who is the Executive Director of the Correctional Education Association, wrote (to me) regarding Taylor and his Kennedy-Western doctoral dissertation: "I have sat on a number of Ph.D and Ed.D committees over the years and his dissertation ranks up there with those I have voted to award a degree."

      And Taylor isn't stopping with that "doctorate." He is, at this moment, taking the final three credit hours to earn a certificate in criminal justice studies from the University of Alabama. And he said that, if released, he plans to earn yet another doctorate -- this time on the campus of Ball State University; after which he would like to teach -- possibly at a junior college or at a prison.

      Taylor got married in 1992, while he was still in the Indiana prison. His wife is a woman who was seeking a prison pen pal and was brought to the Indiana prison by a friend. She would appear to be one of the curious breed of women who seem to seek-out prisoners for relationships and even marriage (see also this curious web page; and this one). Taylor plans to build a life with her and her teenage daughter if and when he is released -- something which, if what we know of the psychology of women who marry prisoners holds true, will probably not work out since one of the most attractive (for the women) elements of the kind of life that women who marry men in prison seek is that their prisoner husbands are locked-up and away from them, can't cheat on them with other women, and are completely under someone's control which means that the wife can control when or even if she communicates with him in writing or by phone or in person. Once that's no longer true about the relationship, things often start falling apart. And none of this takes into account the grating on and damage to a marriage that any former long-time prisoner's constant, passive-aggressive behaviors and manipulations often cause. But I digress.

      So how does Taylor explain the stunning transformation from twice-convicted rapist, then, to scholar, now; from obvious liar, then, to proclaimed truth-teller, now; from admitted low-life, then, to miraculously-transformed model citizen worthy of clemency from Missouri's Governor, now?

      "There was no immediate light bulb going off, no magic wand," he said. "It was a seduction into the darkness from my dad, and [now] it's a seduction back into the light."

      The younger Taylor keeps in touch with his father and recently called him, collect, to wish him a happy 71st birthday. He said his father has remarried and has changed for the better, Taylor assures.

      "I'd been angry at [my father] in the past," he said, "but I do not hold any animosity toward [him]."
    So, on balance, by which set of circumstances should we be most swayed? Or, more accurately, by which set of circumstances should Missouri's Governor -- or, if not, then the parole board when next Taylor comes-up for parole in 2007 -- be most swayed?

    Would it not, under the circumstances, be reasonable for one to wonder:
    • If Taylor is such a model citizen today -- and he may well be, as he claims -- how can he impede that image of him which he asks us to facially accept by proffering as evidence of his rehabilitation a PhD credential which he clearly knows is from a sub-standard educational entity and is almost certainly bogus? Is there not a lie -- and Taylor's very veracity -- fundamentally at issue?
    • Twenty-four years ago, Taylor denied having committed either the Indiana rape or the Missouri rape. Today, however, he admits to having committed the Indiana rape -- a rape which occurred less than a month after, and under curiously similar circumstances as, the Missouri rape that he still denies. He cites his father's dark influence as the biggest thing which made him commit his crimes in the first place -- one of which his father was nowhere near when it happened, it is worthy of note. Is it not appropriate for us, under the circumstances, to detect something of a pattern, here? And is not begged, under those very same circumstances, the time-worn and obvious questions, was Taylor lying then or is he lying now? It's got to be one or the other; and, either way, is there not a lie -- and Taylor's very veracity -- fundamentally at issue?
    • Twenty-four years ago, Taylor fooled his victims, and was subsequently able to commit his flagitious crimes, by successfully posing as a college student. Today he cites his having been such a successful college student as sufficient reason to grant him clemency. Is it not appropriate for us, under the circumstances, to detect something of a pattern, here? And is not begged, under those very same circumstances, the obvious questions, given that the whole college student thing worked pretty well for Taylor both back in 1980, and also before the Indiana judge in 1993, should we be worried that it's also working just as well for him right now? And, in any case, is there not a lie -- and Taylor's very veracity -- fundamentally at issue?
    • Nothwithstanding Taylor's marginal propensity for committing violent, terrifying, egregious and, for their victims, life-altering acts more than two decades ago; and whether or not it was the mere lack of an education back then which stood between him and his horrific impulses; under the circumstances, is it not also appropriate to vigorously oppugn his claim of mendacity, and to ask authorities to strongly consider his general veracity as a cogent and relevant indicator of his true level of rehabilitation, now?
    Just askin'.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 14, 2004
  20. DesElms

    DesElms New Member


    Please read carefully, everyone, the language (and the general impression left thereby) on the web page which describes Jon Marc Taylor's book, "Prisoners' Guerrilla Handbook to Correspondence Programs In the United States and Canada: High School, Vocational, Paralegal and College Courses," and please tell me if I'm off-base when I now suggest that, as an ethical matter, Dr. Steurer -- either while talking with Kim Bell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, or in his email reply to me -- should have disclosed what at least appears to be his organization's interest (or at least apparent interest) in said book.

    Or am I readin' too much into the language on that page, and/or just generally lookin' at it all wrong?
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 15, 2004

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