Inside-Out was important for me because of what was brought to this forum. There was insight, growth, knowledge, and so much power. I believe that because of this, lives will be changed and we as students will be part of making a difference, hopefully.
During this course, I was exposed to new ways of thinking and given a new prospective on the way that the criminal justice system works. I learned about white privilege and how I had unknowingly been using it to my advantage. I learned about the sentencing disparities and how race plays a major factor in not only sentencing but arrests as well. I was not prepared to learn about myself. The biggest lesson I learned about myself was if I was not part of the movement to change the system, I was part of the problem. To say that the Inside-Out program is life-changing is an understatement. This is a program that has helped lead me to where I am in life, professionally and personally. I have taken my knowledge and experience with the criminal justice system and corrections and have been able to gain employment in the therapeutic communities in prisons across the state.
As an inside alumni member of Inside-Out at SCI Lancaster, Inside-Out is a great program for insiders to learn about the impact of crime. It teaches you about the long-term impact of crime on society and to understand the victims’ point of view as well. Inside-Out has led to many alumni, both inside and out, to make career choices that will help to deter crime and help those who are involved in the criminal justice system, as well as helping to create other programs inside of prison that help with cognitive thinking. Thus, helping to lower the recidivism rate and make those who feel hopeless to think towards brighter futures.
I felt that my voice was valued because I was able to give a perspective of the topic that may not have been known by the outsiders. The class gave me insight into what I want to do when my future, that is completely different from my previous plans. I also learned that not only people who are or have been incarcerated are interested in prison abolition.
[Inside-Out] challenged my belief system and forced me to re-evaluate my own biases towards individuals within the criminal justice system and how families and communities are impacted by incarceration. What I learned from this class (and about myself) cannot be found in a traditional classroom setting; it is only something that can be taught to students who are fully immersed within the correctional setting. This course inspired me to attend graduate school and earn a clinical social work degree. After graduation, I became a trained instructor for Inside-Out. I am currently a Ph.D. student at the University of North Dakota studying Criminal Justice.
I have taken so much from this experience, not only becoming more informed about globalization and matters throughout the world, but in a personal aspect. My confidence in myself and the ability to complete something has been strengthened so much. Having the opportunity to work with the Outside students in a class setting has been so helpful to me. I felt like a normal person instead of an inmate or just a number in the judicial system.