This spring, the Roanoke County Jail, in collaboration with Roanoke College, is launching an Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program class. Inside-Out is a unique international educational program that brings traditional college students (“outsiders”) together for semester-long learning with incarcerated individuals (“insiders”).
Roanoke’s program is modeled after a program started at Temple University several decades ago. The Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program was established in 1997 to bring traditional college students and incarcerated individuals together in semester-long courses to explore and learn about issues of crime and justice from behind prison walls. The program was founded on the hypothesis that incarcerated and non-incarcerated students might mutually benefit from studying together as peers.
“Involvement in the Inside-Out program is a highly educational and memorable experience for all involved. This program epitomizes Roanoke College’s commitment to both experiential learning and community involvement.”
Dr. Daisy Ball, assistant professor of criminal justice
Dr. Daisy Ball, assistant professor of criminal justice at Roanoke College, received training through the Temple program, which allows her to establish courses like this in correctional settings. This is the first course of this kind taught at Roanoke College and the first for the Roanoke County Jail. This program is one of only a handful of Inside-Out programs in Virginia.
“Involvement in the Inside-Out program is a highly educational and memorable experience for all involved,” Ball said. “ This program epitomizes Roanoke College’s commitment to both experiential learning and community involvement.”
The Roanoke College/Roanoke County Jail course meets once a week, and all students who complete the course receive one course credit. Inside-Out’s mission is to “foster social change through transformative education.” The program exposes traditional college students to the realities of incarceration, while exposing inmates to academic content and pro-social interactions with college students.
This semester, Dr. Ball is teaching CJUS 261: Special Topics in Criminology at the Roanoke County Jail. Ball and 10 Roanoke College students go to the jail once a week for class with 10 incarcerated individuals. In this course, students first learn the foundations of criminological theory. They are then tasked with critically analyzing various social problems—including white-collar crime, juvenile delinquency and mass incarceration—through the lens of theory. The course culminates with a research project and final presentation to administrators of the Jail and the College.
For more on Roanoke's criminal justice program, visit this page.
News coverage of Roanoke's Inside Out class.
The Roanoke Times: Roanoke College students, county inmates tackle class side by side.