Education in which we are able to encounter each other, especially across profound social barriers, is transformative and allows problems to be approached in new and different ways. Inside-Out’s mission is to create opportunities for people inside and outside of prison to have transformative learning experiences that emphasize collaboration and dialogue and that invite them to take leadership in addressing crime, justice, and other issues of social concern.
We believe that, by studying together and working on issues of crime, justice, and related social concerns, those of us inside and outside of prison can catalyze the kinds of changes that will make our communities more inclusive, just, and socially sustainable.
What Inside-Out Does
The Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program creates avenues for social change through education and civic engagement. By generating opportunities for incarcerated and college students to come together and learn in the same classroom, Inside-Out opens the door for people to gain an education that emphasizes collaborative learning and problem-solving.
Inside-Out brings people together to share learning experiences in which each person is continually reminded of his or her own humanity as stereotypes dissolve, layer after layer. Each interaction gives us the opportunity to encounter each other and to recognize differences and similarities in experiences, perspectives, and beliefs. By sustaining the practice of listening and seeing more deeply, Inside-Out creates a temporary but significant place for us to invite forth our own and others' best selves and inspires us to create more such places in the world.
On the national level, staff at the Inside-Out Center work to:
• Provide leadership, training, and technical assistance to college and university instructors to create working partnerships between schools and correctional institutions.
• Develop support for the program in prison systems and schools across the country by reaching out to educators and prison administrators.
• Advocate for greater educational opportunities for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals.
Inside-Out educators work to:
• Create classroom communities of incarcerated and college students who examine social issues together, so that they may have a challenging and transformative experience of critical thinking, collaborative problem-solving, and civic engagement.
• Make post-secondary education more available to incarcerated and formerly incarcerated men and women.
• Assist non-incarcerated college students, particularly those pursuing careers in criminal justice and social services, in seeing men and women who have been convicted of crimes as potential partners and leaders in addressing social problems.
• Encourage all participants' commitment to civic engagement in addressing social problems.
• Encourage each group of Inside-Out students to develop class projects that have the potential to make a difference in the real world.
Inside and outside alumni:
• Organize and participate in ongoing local "think tanks" composed of Inside-Out alumni and instructors who meet regularly inside jail or prison to work on and carry out their own projects.
• The Graterford Think Tank, established in 2002 at the State Correctional Institution at Graterford in Pennsylvania, hosts workshops on issues of crime and justice for members of the local community and advises and partners with the Inside-Out Center in training new instructors and supporting the national program.
• As other think tanks form across the country, a national network of alumni will have the capacity to coordinate larger-scale social change projects.
THE INSIDE-OUT CENTER