Inside-Out creates a dynamic partnership between institutions of higher learning and correctional systems in order to deepen the conversation about and transform our approaches to understanding crime, justice, freedom, inequality, and other issues of social concern.
Inside-Out brings college students together with incarcerated men and women to study as peers in a seminar behind prison walls. The core of the Inside-Out Program is a semester-long academic course, meeting once a week, through which 15 to 18 “outside” (i.e.: undergraduate) students and the same number of “inside” (i.e.: incarcerated) students attend class together inside prison. All participants read a variety of texts and write several papers; during class sessions, students discuss issues in small and large groups. In the final month of the class, students work together on a class project.
Inside-Out is an opportunity for college students to go behind the walls to reconsider what they have come to know about crime and justice. At the same time, it is also an opportunity for those inside prison to place their life experiences in a larger framework. Inside-Out creates a paradigm shift for participants, encouraging transformation and change agency in individuals and, in so doing, serves as an engine for social change.
Through college classes and community exchanges, individuals on both sides of prison walls are able to engage in a collaborative, dialogic examination of issues of social significance through the particular lens that is the “prism of prison.”
“My experience with the Inside-Out Program has really opened my eyes to many things. Not only was this an opportunity to learn more about prisons and our criminal justice system…, I learned a lot about myself as well. I have to admit that I didn’t really believe that I would grow so much as an individual but this experience has allowed me to see many things in a far different light. I feel like I want to be a part of something bigger than myself and make changes to a far from perfect system. I’ve learned a great deal about the human spirit and that we must change the way we do things in our justice system because our future and prosperity as a society depend on it.” (Outside Participant)