The Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program, founded in 1997, was based on the simple hypothesis that incarcerated men and women and college students might mutually benefit from studying crime, justice, and related social issues together as peers. Participants in that first course, and every subsequent course, have said that Inside-Out was not simply another learning experience – it transformed the way they viewed themselves and the world.
The original idea for this exchange among college students and people inside prison came from a man named Paul serving life in a Pennsylvania prison. He envisioned a space where the two groups could maintain an ongoing dialogue and delve into the root issues of crime together, where individuals could ask questions, address stereotypes, and examine criminal justice literature – in the context of honesty, authenticity, and trust.
Since then, Inside-Out has done that – and more. It has become a movement, driven by students, incarcerated women and men, and college and university instructors trained to design and teach Inside-Out courses in their own subject areas. In turn, these instructors have become advocates within their schools and correctional systems for a model of prison-based, post-secondary education that is financially sustainable and an engine for both short- and long-term change in the United States justice system and in their communities. Inside-Out serves as a source of pride for the many educational and correctional institutions that host its program.
THE INSIDE-OUT CENTER