College students going to a correctional facility for class?
That's idea behind a prison exchange program that's finishing its second year at IU South Bend.
Tuesday night students and inmates at the South Bend Re-Entry Center celebrated a successful semester for the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program.
The program pairs students and inmates up to talk about several issues in criminal justice like successful prison re-entry, recidivism and barriers in the workforce.
Professor Jennifer Colanese, Ph.D., from the Department of Criminal Justice says, “I found that both groups, that you would think that are very far apart in their opinions, have similar ideas of why this happens and what needs to be done in our community.”
The class meets in the center's cafeteria once a week.
Although students are earning credits for the class, the inmates learn to look at life on the outside differently.
“You expect your friends and family to want you to come out to do right,” says inmate Ralph McWherter. “But when complete strangers want you to do good and want you to succeed out of life, that's something that touches your heart.”
There are 130 men staying at the center. They have at least two years left to serve and are all on work release. About 15 men volunteered to be a part of the class.