Sponsored by

Inside-Out Prison Program Brings Together Inmates & Students

A unique program that exposes college students to prison inmates wrapped-up its fifth year Wednesday.
A unique program that exposes college students to prison inmates wrapped-up its fifth year Wednesday.

The "Inside-Out Prison Exchange" brings together Keystone College students and inmates from SCI Waymart in Wayne County.

Eyewitness News was allowed to go behind bars Wednesday for the closing ceremony for the program. We were not allowed to show prisoner faces or use their last names but both sides say the program is a helpful one.

For the last semester, the two groups have been meeting once a week in the prison.

"It gave us a chance to show that not everybody who committed a crime is evil or really negative at heart. They may have made a mistake," inmate Mark said.

Mark has been behind bars since 2007 for robbery. He looked forward to the class every week.

"It felt good to see people that you don't see everyday. It was a change and jail, prison, you really don't see a lot of change," Mark said.

The eight Keystone College students who took part in the program all have an interest in the criminal justice system.

By talking and interacting with the inmates, they spent their semester learning.

Walking away from the program, the students say the experience was life-changing.

"You think about it coming in, it's going to be like the movies and it's nothing like the movies here," Keystone College senior Justin Landsiedel said.

"I was definitely apprehensive walking in here just because I wasn't sure what to expect with the inmates too," Keystone College junior Sam Mehall said. "I wasn't sure if they were going to think that we were going to judge them walking in."

The inmates say they got something out of it too.

"Me, personally, it was just such a pleasure to be a part of something positive again. You know, jail is surrounded by negativity," inmate Tom said.

Inmate "Tom" is serving 15-to-40 years for third degree homicide.

The entire group created a website aimed at helping troubled kids from continuing to commit crimes.

"If we can help one youth from making bad decisions then that's a whole life saved," inmate Tom said.

The "Inside Out" prison exchange program doesn't cost taxpayers any money. It is based off a similiar program that started at Temple University and is now used as a model internationally.
Page: [[$index + 1]]
comments powered by Disqus