Last modified: Monday, April 14, 2008
Graduation scheduled Wednesday for students in Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program
NOTE: News media representatives can make arrangements to attend the Inside-Out graduation ceremony by contacting Dalton Haney at the Plainfield Re-Entry Educational Facility, 317-839-7751, ext. 4111 or email@example.com.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 14, 2008
INDIANAPOLIS -- Inmates and college students learn together in the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program, a collaboration of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and Indiana's Plainfield Re-Entry Educational Facility.
This Wednesday, April 16, they will graduate together. The Indiana Department of Correction's Plainfield facility will host a ceremony, starting at 9 a.m., for the 17 students who completed the semester-long course. Family members, IUPUI faculty and facility staff will attend.
"It's very inspirational," said Roger Jarjoura, the instructor for the class and an associate professor of criminal justice in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at IUPUI. "It's moving to hear from the students. They all say this is the best class they ever had."
The graduation ceremony will take place at 9 a.m. April 16 inside the Plainfield Re-Entry Educational Facility, located at 501 W. Main St. in Plainfield, Ind. Four students, two from inside and two from outside the facility, will speak.
The Inside-Out program was established a decade ago by Lori Pompa, a faculty member at Temple University, who taught the course at prisons in the Philadelphia area. Since 2004, it has been a national program. It has courses in at least 15 states.
Jarjoura and Susan Hyatt, an associate professor of anthropology in the School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI, took part on Inside-Out instructor training in 2006. Last summer, they launched the program in Indiana, teaching an inaugural course at the Plainfield facility, where offenders nearing the end of their prison terms prepare for re-entry to society.
Jarjoura taught this semester's Inside-Out course at Plainfield, which met once a week in the prison and explored themes of punishment and reformation in the U.S. and other countries. This summer, Jarjoura and Hyatt will offer an Inside-Out course at the Indiana Women's Prison, with women students from IUPUI making up part of the class.
With the Inside-Out program, every effort is made to not distinguish between the two groups of students. They are referred to as inside students and outside students, and they do the same course work and study the same materials.
"With some of the activities we do, they very quickly come to see each other as peers, which breaks down the preconceived ideas about the other group," Jarjoura said.
He said the IUPUI students -- the outside students -- tend to be initially fearful of interacting with men who have spent years behind bars. And the Plainfield facility residents -- the inside students -- can be intimidated by the idea of taking a college course and worried they won't be accepted.
For the outside students, Jarjoura said, the course provides a deeper meaning to what they have learned in the classroom. For the inside students, it helps them gain confidence and focus their thinking about how to live effective lives when they leave the prison system.
"The common denominator of these guys is, they have spent the majority of their adult lives incarcerated," he said. "For many of them, this is transformative. They just didn't expect to be able to do this and be accepted by the community."