During the May 2022 term, the Goshen College Criminal and Restorative Justice Department will welcome back the Inside-Out Exchange Program.The program was created as an educational tool to bring imprisoned students, referred to as “inside students,” and college students, or “outside students,” into a classroom-like environment. The goal is to study issues from crime to societal problems while learning from each other and creating strong relationships.
Inside-Out was brought into fruition in May 2014 by the late conflict studies professor Carolyn Schrock-Shenk.
“After Carolyn’s death, I inherited some of her classes and projects; Inside-Out is one of them,” said Regina Shands Stoltzfus, professor of conflict studies and the May term course. She explained that she and Rob Brenneman, professor of criminal justice and sociology, took the training last year, which is required of all people who teach in the program.
This program was put on hold for two years due to COVID-19. With almost everything being virtual and the jail prohibiting outside visitors, it became tricky to keep the program running.
Shands-Stoltzfus and others are excited about the return and have worked hard to ensure that the event is possible this year.
“This will be my first time teaching it, and I am excited about it,” said Shands-Stoltzfus. “We’re just glad to have this opportunity to get back on track with this after a long absence.”
There are a couple of tracks that are being offered.
The first pathway is Justice in our Lives, which will strive to explore violence and non-violence in connection with ourselves, others, and the different systems. This pathway will also highlight topics like restorative justice and will be taught in the men’s section of the jail. Shands-Stoltzfus and Glenn Gilbert, a previous faculty member at Goshen College, will co-lead this course.
The second pathway, Journeys of Trauma and Resilience, will focus on collective trauma through the idea of migration as a universal experience. Michelle Milne, an adjunct professor at Goshen College, will co-teach this course for the fifth time with Saulo Padillo, the Immigration Education Director at Mennonite Central Committee. This pathway will be taught in the women’s section of the jail and is only open to female students.
“Our section…will look at our shared, common experiences of trauma and resilience through a lens of migration as movement,” says Milne. “We will explore creative responses as tools for building resilience – individually, collectively, and collaboratively.”
“Students apply for the program in order to register,” explained Shands-Stoltzfus. “We want everyone involved to know what the program is – outside students are not participating to ‘help’ or ‘study’ inside students. We are all in this together.”
An outside student reflected in a 2015 Goshen College blog post about time spent in the Inside-Out program and his preconceived notions.
“I expected jumpsuits and jail stereotypes…” he said. “I had unconscious expectations bred into me through media, society, and the news.”
Since 2014, the program has remained effective and influential on the micro and macro level.
“Breaking down stereotypes is certainly an important aspect,” said Shands-Stoltzfus. “It’s also an opportunity to learn more about how the criminal justice system functions and explore issues of justice from various standpoints.”
Interested students may check the Communicator for the application form. This program is open to anyone interested. The department is still taking applications, where follow-up interviews will occur.