Andi Stepnick’s (Sociology) restorative justice class celebrated their spring graduation at the Charles Bass Correctional Complex on April 28. This course creates a unique partnership between prisoners, prison officials, college students, local congregations and community groups. This semester’s class, which had nearly 55 students, was a collaborative effort with the American Baptist College, Belmont University and the prison. Stepnick facilitated the class along with Rev. Janet Wolf of American Baptist College and Ms. Glenda Lingo of Parents in Prison.
The program is part of the national Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program created by Lori Pompa through Temple University and the Lifers Group in Graterford Prison. As their brochure explains, “Inside-Out was established to create a dynamic partnership between institutions of higher learning and correctional systems, in order to deepen the conversation about and transform our approaches to issues of crime and justice.”
This semester half of the students came from inside the prison and half were from the outside (including a few community members). Students from sociology, social work, communication studies, social entrepreneurship, nursing, religion and psychology participated in the program. Many students who have taken the class have gone on to do internships or obtain jobs at Dismas House, Christian Women’s Job Corps and the Next Door. Of the class one student commented, “This program has been transformative for me. I have made lifelong friends and have a completely different view of the ‘justice’ system of America and now long to be a part of changing it.”
To learn more, visit www.trionashville.com and www.InsideOutCenter.org.