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Betty Cunningham
Indiana Women's Prison

Last modified: Thursday, July 24, 2008

IUPUI and Indiana Women's Prison collaborate on Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program

Graduation ceremony scheduled Monday at Indiana Women's Prison chapel

NOTE: News media representatives can make arrangements to attend the Inside-Out graduation ceremony by contacting Betty Cunningham at the Indiana Women's Prison, 317-639-2671 or

July 24, 2008

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Inmates and college students have spent this summer getting to know each other as fellow students through the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program, a collaboration of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and the Indiana Women's Prison.

Next week they will share a sense of accomplishment over what they have learned together. The Indiana Women's Prison will host a ceremony Monday morning for the 24 students who completed the semester-long course. Family members, IUPUI faculty and facility staff will attend.

Roger Jarjoura, an instructor for the class and an associate professor of criminal justice in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at IUPUI, said the course was "a fantastic experience for all involved."

"The students came together as one group and embraced the role that women can play in social action," he said. "It caused everyone to reconsider the perceptions they had of the members of the other group. This model of learning is very powerful and this experience has been transformational for everyone involved. We will certainly offer another Inside-Out class at the Women's Prison."

The graduation ceremony will take place at 8:30 a.m. Monday, July 28, in the chapel at the Women's Prison, located at 401 N. Randolph St. in Indianapolis. Six students, three from inside and three from outside the facility, will speak.

The Inside-Out program was established a decade ago by Lori Pompa, a faculty member at Temple University in Philadelphia. It has been a national program since 2004 and now offers courses in at least 15 states.

Jarjoura and Susan Hyatt, an associate professor of anthropology in the School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI, launched the program in Indiana a year ago, after taking part in Inside-Out instructor training in 2006. They taught an inaugural course at the Plainfield Re-Entry Educational Facility, where offenders nearing the end of their prison terms prepare for re-entry to society, and repeated the course for a different group at Plainfield this spring.

Jarjoura and Hyatt taught this semester's Inside-Out course at the Women's Prison, where students explored themes of social action and the role that women have played in social action over time. The class is made up of 24 female students, 12 from the prison (the Inside Students) and 12 from IUPUI (the Outside Students).

With the Inside-Out program, every effort is made to not distinguish between the two groups of students, the instructors said. 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," Hyatt said.

She said the IUPUI students -- the outside students -- tend to be initially fearful of interacting with women who have spent years behind bars. And the prison inmates -- 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 their IUPUI classes. 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.