Applications Now Open for Spring 2019 Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program

FLORENCE, Ala. – The Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program at the University of North Alabama is entering its second year and is now accepting applications for spring 2019.

This international program began at Temple University by criminal justice professor Lori Pompa and celebrated its 20th anniversary last year.

More than 100 universities and more than 100 correctional facilities participate in the program, which brings university and incarcerated students together in the same classroom. The University of North Alabama is the first school to offer the program in the state of Alabama.

Dr. Katie Owens-Murphy, assistant professor of English at UNA, underwent the intensive 60-hour training required to become an Inside-Out instructor during summer 2017, thanks to a College of Arts & Sciences Faculty Development grant.

Owens-Murphy developed an interdisciplinary course called “Restorative Justice in American Literature” in which 10 UNA students from English, Education, Political Science and Criminal Justice travelled to Limestone Correctional Facility, a maximum-security men’s prison, to take the course with 10 incarcerated students each week.

“I am so grateful to have the support of administrators from our university and from Limestone,” said Owens-Murphy.  “It is their support and open-mindedness that makes this amazing program possible and enables us to advance UNA’s mission to meet the civic and social needs of our region.”

UNA senior Baylee Smith describes the course as transformational.

“The men from Limestone that were in my class taught me more about myself and the world than I could ever have learned in a regular college setting,” Smith said.

UNA and Limestone students were so energized by last year’s course material that they have initiated a think tank called “Restorative Justice for Alabama” under Owens-Murphy’s guidance. This group of Inside-Out alumni continues to meet on a monthly basis.

They are currently creating mission and vision statements as well as mapping short-term and long-term goals for the group. UNA is one of only two dozen schools that participate in the Inside-Out Think Tank network, which also hosts instructor trainings.

“Two psychology professors from Athens State have joined our think tank and will be undergoing instructor training so that they can offer Inside-Out courses through their university, as well,” said Owens-Murphy. “If we can grow our network, we may be able to become an instructor training site in the future.”

The topic of the Inside-Out course for Spring 2019 is “Injustice and Resilience in Literature,” and will feature a live performance of Shakespeare’s “King Lear” at Limestone Correctional Facility by renowned British theater troupe “Actors From the London Stage.”

The Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program is hosted by the English department under course title EN 492/592 but is also cross-listed with Criminal Justice (CJ 491/591) and Political Science (PS 490/590).

Spaces are limited; interested students must complete an application and interview.

Applications are accessible through the English Department’s website through Nov. 2:https://www.una.edu/english/inside-out-prison-exchange-program.html.

You can read more about last year’s course in the Alabama Humanities Foundation magazine, Mosaic, p. 24: http://www.alabamahumanities.org/news/mosaic/.

For more information on Inside-Out Instructor Training: Katie Owens-Murphy at kowensmurphy@una.edu.

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