Tyra Patterson gives back


“I want to give back what was given to me.”

Tyra Patterson owns her story and her experience as a woman who was incarcerated for 23 years. Since her release from prison in Dec. 2017, she’s worked tirelessly to give back to the community in hopes of steering young people down a path that excludes incarceration.

Click here to learn more about Tyra’s case and how OJPC helped her get out of prison

Tyra visited hundreds of high school students in the first few months following her release from prison. Soon, her work spread to include colleges and law schools, as well as clubs and organizations across the nation.

MORE: See a gallery of photos and video from some of Tyra’s school visits

While in prison, Tyra mentored some high school students in Ohio through Skype calls and old-fashioned pen pal letters. In particular, the students at DePaul Cristo Rey High School in Cincinnati shared a special bond with Tyra. Below is one DePaul Cristo Rey student singing a song he wrote about Tyra:

Tyra’s ability to inspire and encourage young people is astounding. She has a unique gift.

Take it from one student — who wanted to remain anonymous — who wrote to OJPC’s Executive Director David Singleton after Tyra visited her school.

“The story was so inspirational and made me realize I need to show more gratitude. I struggle with depression and anxiety. Sometimes I have suicidal thoughts…Her story made me realize that she wasn’t giving up, locked away from society. So with all the opportunities I have, I can’t give up either.

I really feel a connection to Ms. Patterson. I just wanted to keep hugging her and take all her pain away…my heart goes out to her. I know she will continue to do good. Tell her that she has touched many people with her story and she is such a dope person and she will always be in my heart and prayers.”

Below is a video in which students from Aiken High School explain what Tyra’s visit meant to them. Tyra said she was “honored” to speak to students at the high school.

If you want Tyra to visit your club or organization, please send all inquiries to