Professor spends five years in prison, uses experience to teach

Chelsey Fisher

Dan Murphy is an associate professor in the Department of Government and Justice Studies with first-hand experience in prison.

After multiple back surgeries and a car accident, Murphy was taking an increasingly large number of painkillers. Desperate for relief, he found that smoking marijuana was the only thing that kept his back pain in check, Murphy said.

But, the man from whom he had been buying marijuana soon stopped his operation.

So, Murphy began growing his own.

He took seeds and planted them in a rural area where he used to hunt and fish, Murphy said.

Murphy knew the owner of the land. The owner wasn’t using it because the government was paying him not to grow corn to insure the price of corn would stay higher, he said.

Law enforcement inspects land not being used to insure no corn is being grown, Murphy said. One inspection took place the day after Murphy planted the marijuana.

Law enforcement then set up surveillance and captured Murphy entering and leaving the field, he said.

Murphy then found himself put in prison for five years starting in 1992.

“I had pulled two years – I had three years to pull, yet,” Murphy said. “I wrote a letter to my sister and said, ‘I am living insanity. This is crazy. You people have no idea what’s going on. This is straight-up nuts.'”

While in prison, Murphy told his sister he wanted to go back to school, get a graduate degree, and publish his knowledge and experience to get involved with activities to address the “insanity,” he said.

Murphy now works as a professor and works directly with Congress on the Board of Directors for Federal Cure, which works to seek federal criminal justice reform.

Murphy has testified before Congressional subcommittees to lend his expertise and primary experience in the American prison system.

Murphy is among the four ex-con professors who founded the ‘New School of Convict Criminology.’

Their goal is to encourage a new mindset about criminals, Murphy said.

Murphy said he is not against prison and holds the belief that prison is vital for our society to function.

“What I’m questioning is who we punish and how we punish,” Murphy said.

Freshman political science major Grant Simpkins said Murphy “knows a lot” about the prison system.

“He understands the legal aspects and the non-legal aspects of it at the same time. He has a lot of good stories,” Simpkins said.


Story: JOSH FARMER, News Reporter