Students in “Life/Sentences” will have class in a medium security state prison 50 miles from campus, alongside incarcerated classmates in a setting modeled on the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program begun at Temple University. All students will be interviewed by the professor before enrolled into the course.
A February 2008 New York Times story reported on America’s “Incarceration Crisis”: 1 in every 99.1 U.S. adults was behind bars, 1.6 million in prison (up by 25000 from 2007) and another 723,000 in local jails, the highest rate of incarceration for any nation in modern history. Yet, despite the scope of the issue, most of us know very little about prison life. Prison walls are meant to keep inmates in, of course, but they also hold the rest of us out. Closer to home, prisons dot our local North Country landscape like blind spots, says Simone-Weil Davis, so that our internalized maps of home are “skewed, pitted with lacunae.” And these blind spots impoverish us and impede social change. Students in “Life/Sentences” will interrogate this cultural ignorance experiencing prison life firsthand at Riverview Correctional Facility, discuss issues surrounding contemporary prisons with incarcerated classmates, and via first-person narratives about prison life. (CBL) This course fulfills the FYP general education requirement.
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