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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Fit to be king
Lilli Dellheim, Special to the Hawk • July 13, 2024

A new view of justice

Students study alongside inmates in the Inside-Out program.

Now in its tenth year, the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program continues to thrive at St. Joe’s, with a team-taught course being offered for the first time this semester by Susan Clampet-Lundquist, Ph. D., associate professor of sociology and criminal justice, and Aisha Lockridge, Ph. D., associate professor of English.

The program is a combination of 15 college students and 15 maximum-security prison inmates. The students in Clampet-Lundquist and Lockridge’s class travel each week to Cambria Correctional Center in Philadelphia to participate in a discussion-based class with students who are incarcerated. St. Joe’s students are considered the “outside” students and the incarcerated students are the “inside” students.

“It’s been really fun to bring those two disciplines together,” Clampet-Lundquist said. “We’re teaching this [semester] in a Philadelphia jail. In the fall we’re hopeful that we are going to be able to teach it in the federal prison downtown.”

Lori Pompa, a professor of criminal justice at Temple University, and Paul Perry, a man serving a life sentence in prison, started the program in 1997. Pompa first began teaching the class and later began training instructors to teach the class.

Members from St. Joe’s learned about the program through meetings at the State Correctional Institution at Graterford. Faculty at the Faith-Justice Institute at St. Joe’s expressed interest in being a part of the program, and by the spring of 2008, the nationwide program made its way to St. Joe’s. 

Clampet-Lundquist was the first St. Joe’s faculty member to be trained for the program in 2007. The training is a 60-hour, week-long experience. Instructors learn how to teach in a participatory way inside of a correctional institution. The program also covers how to handle ethical issues and how to create a safe classroom space.

St. Joe’s has played a crucial role in the success of the Inside-Out program, Clampet-Lundquist said. As of last year, St. Joe’s has 10 instructors trained in the program, which is the second-highest number of involved participants, following Temple University and tied with Drexel University.    

“St. Joe’s as a university has made a really big commitment to being involved in Inside-Out through training, instructors  and a variety of other types of ways,” Clampet-Lundquist said.

There are several driving forces behind the success of this program, including the support from the Faith-Justice Institute, according to Ann Green, Ph.D., professor of English, who has taught in the program. Green said faculty are attracted to this program because of the power behind this teaching method. 

“This is a very powerful kind of experiential education where you take people who have never been inside of prison into a prison,” Green said.

Elizabeth Linehan, Ph. D., associate professor of philosophy, trained for the program in 2008.

“Some of the students from St. Joe’s will say that it’s just not like any other course that they’ve taken,” Linehan said. “One of the ways that it isn’t is that the discussion is more open and candid once they get to know each other.”

Quinn Rooney ’18, who participated in the course Dimensions of Freedom in the fall of 2017, said that being a member of the Inside-Out program gave her the opportunity to look at the justice system and incarcerated individuals through fresh eyes.

“The program allowed me to make my own judgements and come to my own conclusions aside from the labels and preconceived notions society casts on the system,” Rooney said. “I am forever grateful that SJU allowed me to partake in such a unique and special experience.”

Jared Martinez ’19 was a member of the Inside-Out course titled Exploring Crime and Justice in the spring of 2017.  Martinez said that Inside-Out provided him with a unique real world experience.

“Not only did I learn so much about the criminal justice system from my fellow classmates, both from SJU and Graterford, I was also able to foster friendships, making the class one of the most enjoyable memories from SJU,” Martinez said.

At the end of each semester, the students write what the class meant to them in a reflection booklet. After the 2017 spring semester, one of the inside students from Graterford State Prison wrote that the course provided “a deeper appreciation of the true meaning of justice, and more respect and understanding for others and their views.”

“It has made me an overall better human being,” the student wrote.

As for the future, Green said she hopes for the program to receive more recognition, in terms of more regular budgetary support for training. She said she also hopes for the program to spread into the Haub School of Business, but more importantly, she hopes that this program has a bigger take away.

“I would like to see St. Joe’s  become more involved in activism around juvenile justice issues, death by incarceration, and other criminal justice issues, and if we can think critically about re-entry, that would be great,” Green said.

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