Posted on Friday, May 25, 2018
Dr. Timothy Cuff, professor of history, and a group of Westminster College undergraduates recently completed a course at the Trumbull Correctional Institution (TCI) in Warren, OH using the Inside-Out Program methodology. Since the late 1990s, the Inside-Out program has sought to provide opportunities for incarcerated persons and college students to understand the criminal justice system, those adjudicated and held by it, and themselves more fully.
"Unlike “Scared Straight” or other “prison education” programs, Inside-Out takes undergraduate college students inside the walls of a correctional institution in order to participate in a college class with an equal number of incarcerated men or women," explained Cuff.
Cuff, along with Westminster faculty members Dr. Kristenne Robison and Dr. Jamie Chapman, have been trained to teach Inside-Out classes. This Spring was Cuff’s first opportunity to teach an Inside-Out, and he taught a course called “Prisons, Asylums, Orphanages and Other Homes for the Disconnected: The History of American Institutions of Care and Control.”
According to Cuff, students from Westminster and the correctional institution repeatedly noted the deep impact which this course had on them, intellectually and emotionally.
One student said, “I have become more understanding of other’s circumstances as well as more appreciative of my own.” Another said, “I gained an insight into the humanity within the walls of confinement.”
Insideoutcenter.org reports, "the Inside-Out praxis stems from the belief that society is strengthened when higher education/learning is made widely accessible and, at the same time, when it allows participants to encounter each other as equals, often across profound social barriers." Inside-Out believes that bringing incarcerated and non-incarcerated people together for engaged and informed dialogue allows for transformative learning experiences.
Under Robison's continued coordination of the program at Westminster, there are plans for additional Inside-Out class offerings over the course of the next several years in Ohio and potentially in Pennsylvania’s men’s and women’s prisons.
For more information, contact Cuff at firstname.lastname@example.org.