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Graduate Fellowship

T.J. PARSELL

Tisch School of the Arts
Master of Fine Art, May 2012
Kanbar Institute of Film & Television
Bio (.pdf)
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T.J. Parsell is a natural born storyteller.  He has dedicated his life to ending sexual violence in prison, and more specifically, to ending the practice of sending juveniles into adult jails and prisons. His passion stems from the years he spent in prison as a teenager and young adult.  At 21 years old, he’d spent nearly a quarter of his life in prison.  By 30, T.J. put himself through college and was a successful software executive and at 40, he became a human rights activist, a published author, and one of the nation’s leading advocates to end prisoner rape.   He is pursuing a Master of Fine Art in Film and Television at NYU’ Tisch School of the Arts, where he intends to make his award-winning book, Fish: A Memoir of a Boy in a Man’s Prison (Da Capo Press, 2007), into a feature length film.

T.J. is the former President of Stop Prisoner Rape and was instrumental in passage of the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003, the first-ever federal legislation to address this issue.  He has served as a consultant to the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission and on several national standards committees that helped draft federal policy that will affect every federal, state and local jail, prison, juvenile facility, immigration detention and private prison in the United States.  He has spoken at Harvard, Columbia, Howard, American, Notre Dame, and UCLA Law Schools.  T.J. has frequently appeared on national and international media outlets and has made it his life’s mission to bring public awareness to the horrific conditions for juveniles housed in adult jails and prisons.  

T.J. wrote his book to put a human face on the issue of what happens to juveniles who are sent to an adult prison.  His intent to make Fish into a feature length film is to bring action oriented awareness on a national and/or global scale.