The Inside-Out Center outside quote

"Inside-Out Prison Exchange. The title of this program is loaded with all kinds of meaning. Starting with the obvious, it involves people from the inside of prisons and people from the outside of prisons. The terminology designates everyone as people, people coming from different places and perspectives, certainly, but people nonetheless. No one is labeled as a college kid, a criminal, or anything else. Inside-Out can refer to something else though, as well – the reversal of many of the ideas that many of us students held about each other, the criminal justice system, and even life. The phrase could even be used to describe the emotional journey that some of the students took, grasping a hold of feelings that had been kept inside and tearing them out in the open to share and reflect upon with the rest of us...

“This is also an exchange that takes place in a prison. But what is being exchanged? Roles, kind of. For a few hours every (week), the outside students had to sit in a prison, being watched by guards and cameras. The inside students had the opportunity to do something that frighteningly few people that are incarcerated in our country ever do, participate in a university level course. The most important exchange, however, in my opinion, is the exchange of ideas that takes place. The sustained dialogue in our prison classroom is what taught me so much this semester, and it is that that I will carry with me beyond my academic life.”

Outside Voices

“Most college courses are lectures and readings which, later on, we are supposed to apply to real-life situations. This class was a real-life situation itself. The readings gave all of us facts, statistics, and the opinions of ‘the experts,’ but...the students in the class gave it life—we taught each other more than can be read in a book.”

“I didn’t expect to learn so much. I didn’t expect to grow and change as a result of the process….As I reflect on the power of this course, I am awestruck and humbled...and certain that I do not want it to end here.”

“This class has made me reevaluate my thoughts on people in prison and the criminal justice system.”

“Class sessions were not 'classes' by the usual standard. They were safety nets, zones by which we could come together and discuss issues commonly significant to all of us, problems and solutions that we felt were important to consider and resolve.”

“This whole experience has had an enormous effect on me. The issues that were addressed in class seeped into every inch of my being. The issues have consistently reinforced my desire and need to work for social justice.”

“What a person can’t get from any a glimpse of the stories and lives that are kept behind these walls.”

“I have learned so much from this class not only about prison life, but also about humanity. I have learned things from this class that you just cannot get from any book; in all actuality lessons like these are pretty hard to find anywhere.”

“What I did not fully expect was how heightened my awareness would become. ... I feel like everyone should be able to see what I see. I guess this increased sensitivity is the best thing that could have ever happened to me.”

“[This class] has acted as the catalyst in my passion for life and human rights, and was the pivotal point where I realigned my own path. This program has brought me to a new understanding of life, not just in prison, but in my own life. I have acquired the concrete knowledge of the true inter-workings of the system, and at the same time come to realize my own captors in life. I have heard the stories, felt the smiles, and seen the tears of women who have been to hell and back and with them I have found a voice.”

“Participating in this exchange of roles and ideas, forcing the inside out and the outside in, has helped me to solidify my beliefs about what changes need to be made. …It has also strengthened my resolve to do so in whatever way that I can contribute. …I hope that the others who have taken and will take this class feel the same way, because if so, then we will have a strong coalition united for change going into the future.”




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