Cleveland, Ohio - Nineteen students recently celebrated their successful completion of the inaugural Inside-Out Prison Exchange course at the Northeast Reintegration Center, a minimum security women's prison in Cleveland. Jointly hosted by John Carroll University and the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, the collaborative learning opportunity brought nine “outside students” who traveled from the JCU campus together with ten “inside students” incarcerated at the facility. Emphasizing collaboration and dialogue, the semester-long course equipped students to become active problem solvers and engaged citizens.
The Inside-Out Prison Exchange program was founded 25 years ago at Temple University by Lori Pompa. It began when Pompa took her Criminal Justice students to the State Correctional Institution in Dallas, PA to listen to a panel of incarcerated men serving life sentences. This initial visit soon evolved into a collaborative learning experience with more than 200 partnerships between correction facilities and higher education institutions. John Carroll's "inside" and "outside" graduates join over 60,000 students worldwide who have been impacted by these courses.
Seeking to add a meaningful educational collaboration to his decades of teaching experience, Dr. Richard Clark, a professor of Sociology and Criminology at John Carroll University, led the effort to bring the Inside-Out program to the university. Soon he was joined by co-teacher Malia McAndrew, Associate Professor of History. The pair interviewed potential students and developed a curriculum focused on reading and writing about issues of social justice through the Peace, Justice & Human Rights Program. Warden LaShann Eppinger welcomed the program into the NeRC facility.
Both inside and outside students reported feeling a sense of community in the course. Morgan Kirkpatrick ’23 remarked that the class had renewed her interest in studying law after graduation, having gained the opportunity to learn from classmates who had thought deeply about the criminal justice system. The course provided Scott Esteb ’24, the only male student, a powerful opportunity to learn about issues impacting the lives of women worldwide.
At a recent “Voices of Inclusion” seminar intended to share lessons learned from the first Inside-Out class with the wider John Carroll University community, Rachael Whitehouse ‘23 read an essay written by Allie, an inside student with whom she had worked closely.
“I had the honor and privilege of taking part in a John Carroll University class", Allie wrote. “It led me to the realization that the world is a messy place where a countless number of social injustices take place daily. Although the world is messy, it is our home and only we are tasked with making it better.” Allie closed her letter with the same call to action that was present throughout the semester saying: “I want to challenge you to put down your phone. Have a conversation with someone you normally would not. Leave judgment to the man upstairs, and let people’s current situation, not their past dictate how you view them. Because you never know how far someone has come to get to where they are.”
PJHR 275: Modern Social Problems will be offered to students each term, and those who are interested in enrolling should contact Dr. Clark at firstname.lastname@example.org or Dr. McAndrew at email@example.com. To learn more about the Inside-Out program, please visit the official website.
About John Carroll University:
John Carroll University is a leading Jesuit Catholic liberal arts university preparing a diverse student body to strategically face the challenges of tomorrow. Through academic rigor, experiential learning and the Jesuit ideal of care for the whole person, John Carroll is continually creating the leaders of the future. They will serve society with developed critical thinking skills, a strong moral foundation and an awareness for the greater good.
Founded in 1886, JCU is one of 27 Jesuit universities in the United States and ranked second among Midwest regional universities by U.S. News and World Report.
Learn more about how JCU is inspiring the future here.