In the spring of 2020, we are bringing the Inside Out Prison Exchange Program, a nationally-known classroom model, to Washburn. This unique course, supported by the Department of Sociology and Anthropology and the University Honors Program, will take place at the Topeka Correctional Facility (TCF), and an equal number of Washburn students and inmates from the facility will be enrolled in the course. As students, members of these two communities will learn together, breaking down the barriers between them and bringing a greater understanding of our prison system.
Your contribution will offset tuition for the 12 student-inmates at TCF who enroll in the course, ensuring that they will meet Washburn students on equal ground. This funding will support the educational journey of participating incarcerated students, who can then take pride not only in their participation in the course, but also in the academic credits they receive. Credit from this course could become a foundation and source of confidence for continuing education or a future degree.
This opportunity will change the perspectives and lives of students, both from Washburn and from the Topeka Correctional Facility. The Inside Out curriculum changes the way people think about and interact with the various components of the criminal justice system. Funding to allow the TCF student-inmates to receive college credit for their participation in the program with enhance the benefits they receive from the course. In addition to the immediate impact of experiencing a college course and participating in a discussion where all opinions are valued, all students will recognize themselves as agents of change in their own lives and in the broader community.
Students who participated in the Inside Out program at other institutions reported that it changed the way they saw fellow students, and inspired them to look at the world in a different way.
One former incarcerated Inside Out student wrote:
The [Inside Out] course really showed me how intense my journey through the criminal justice system has been and how many times I have been abandoned by the same system that claims to want to help me. I have learned how people can claim to be open-minded and that they are not biased, yet their perspectives on who is punished, for what, and how puts their prejudices out in the open for all to see. I have also learned how much more biased I am then what I previously believed. Above all else though, I got the redemption I was trying for and became motivated for a better life. Now, I am working on creating opportunities for myself that would reduce my likelihood of reoffending as well as thinking of small ways for me to try to help others do the same…
This funding would directly benefit the women who are incarcerated at TCF, for whom this course may represent the opportunity to begin a college career. The Inside Out curriculum can give them the confidence of knowing that there is a future educational path for them. It is essential that we offer these women college credit so that they have a sense of accomplishment equal to the students from Washburn.