Reflections from the JCI Criminal Justice Class

It was a great pleasure to be in the company of you and the students. It’s refreshing to be able to let your hair down and just get to know people from the outside. But in prison you always have to be prepared for anything, so it was nice to feel like you were free…As much as people try to separate prisoners from society we are very much the same no matter where we are. There’s always exceptions to the rules, but for the most part we all have the same core thoughts on punishment, desires for our lives, and hopes and dreams for our children. Anonymous, JCI Student

I thought that one of the hardest parts of this journey was going to be removing the label of “inmates” from the inside students. Much to my surprise, that was relatively easy. I learned about my capability to be unbiased and less judgmental. It’s pretty easy to develop judgmental attitudes and become prejudice towards others who are considered by society as “bad” and “dangerous” people; especially living in Baltimore where crime is constantly headlined in the news. I never found it difficult to think of the inside students as anything other than students. Instead, I was able to interact and participate in discussions with the inside men just like I would in any other classroom setting with university students. Sarah, UB Student

My experience with the students was a lot of things. It was very interesting. I was very reluctant to open up at first because of the bias stigma put on me (us) because of my situation being in prison. I do think that the experience as a whole helped me to be more open minded and mindful not to fall into the stereotypes because of my own insecurities. Twist, JCI Student

The respect that was in the room was also very incredible.  One thing we talked about before going inside JCI was that we were nervous, and pondering the fact would there be mutual respect?  Respect was present at all times in our classes inside, coupled with jokes and laughter which was nice.  It was a breath of fresh air to have both seriousness, and humor in the room at the same time.  The entire experience was great, and I wish I could go inside every single week and take a class with the JCI students now.  John, UB Student

My first experience with the UB students was one of extreme enlightenment. It has been three long years since I last interacted with young men and women within my age bracket from the outside world. It was interesting to witness how similar our perspectives are regarding various different social, economical, and political issues, even though we reside on opposite sides of the societal spectrum. Anonymous, JCI Student

When all the JCI students had left the classroom and the UB students started to walk out through the yard some of the guys were still standing in the middle of the yard. We had then realized that we would never see these guys ever again in our entire life. I remember hearing one of the guys say “Coming from someone who has a life bid, don’t take anything for granted and enjoy your time on the outside.” That statement will always stick with me. I will cherish the fact that I can live my life and do whatever I want to when I want to and not have to be locked up and controlled by an institution.  Amanda, UB Student


Leave a Reply