The Missouri Eastern Correctional Center, also known as “Pacific” or “MECC,” is a medium-security prison, approximately a 40 minute-drive from the Washington University Danforth campus. It is located at 18701 Old Hwy 66 in Pacific, MO, off the Six Flags exit on I-44.  MECC houses approximately 1,100 inmates.

Those incarcerated in MECC come from all areas in Missouri with a few from outside the state.   The vocational and educational opportunities at MECC include a GED Program, Prison Performing Arts (a St. Louis-based organization that sponsors theater productions performed by incarcerated people), and the PEP program, but are otherwise very limited. 

Most of the incarcerated men have jobs, such as working in dining services, laundry, maintenance, and they receive very minimal wages for their work (the lowest paid prison job is $7.50/month, but many earn between $30-$40/month).  They are financially responsible for many of their personal hygiene items, extra clothing beyond their prison-issued garb, additional food items, etc., that they may purchase at the prison commissary. With a few exceptions, our students have been released from work assignments, making PEP their primary occupation.

Moving Through the Prison and Working with Prison Staff

Rules for entering Pacific are established by the facility. It is important that you follow these rules exactly.  Once you have been issued your ID badge, you will be instructed on the process of entering the facility, which includes signing in, checking out an alarm or radio, scanning your ID badge in the appropriate places on the way in and out, and going through security, where any items you plan to bring into the prison will be checked.

Vehicles must be locked at all times while on state property.  No unattended children or pets can be left in vehicles while on state property.

After going through security, you will walk across the yard to the building where our classroom is located. Our education program in the prison functions day-to-day because of the support, toleration or indifference of prison staff. Make as little disturbance as possible when you walk through the larger prison to our in-prison classrooms. In all your encounters with prison staff, your patience, discretion, and polite attitude are crucial to the success of the Prison Education Project.

The Missouri Department of Corrections (MODOC) refers to guards as “officers” or CO (short for Correctional Officer) and incarcerated persons as “offenders.” The officers are law enforcement officers. Please take care to refer to them as such when you are at the facility.

In all your encounters with prison staff, your patience, discretion, and polite attitude are crucial to the success of the Prison Education Project.
You will encounter a variety of personalities through your work in the prison. Each corrections officer and prison staffer may have a slightly different protocol; each will express different attitudes toward the college in prison program. Please act with respect for their security expertise and follow DOC regulations. Rules may seem unclear or vary from day to day, or staff member to staff member. It is important to always defer to prison staff.
Outside Washington University classrooms, please avoid talking about your students.