Penn State Brandywine Students Join County Prison Inmates in Prison Exchange Program

Participants and organizers of the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program that included Penn State Brandywine students and incarcerated persons at the George W. Hilll Correctional facility
Image via Delaware County
Participants in the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program

Eight students from Penn State Brandywine worked on a semester-long Inside-Out Program project with four incarcerated persons at the George W. Hill Correctional facility.

The 12 participants in the “Inside Out” Prison Exchange Program culminated in a graduation ceremony Nov. 29.

The Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program began in 1997 at Temple University and has expanded across the country.  2022 was the first year the George W. Hill Correctional facility participated in the program.

“Programs like ‘Inside Out’ help people who are being detained build their skill sets in preparation for their return to our community and establish a greater understanding of their experiences to ease their reintegration,” said Laura K. Williams, George W. Hill Correctional Facility’s Warden.

“It is because of the effort of Professor Angela Putman and Administrator Kelly Shaw that experiences like this are becoming a critical part of Delaware County’s plan to help those who have entered our criminal justice system break the cycle that leads too many to return to incarceration.” 

The graduation ceremony featured opening remarks from Warden Williams, Delaware County Councilman and the Chair of the County’s Jail Oversight Board Kevin Madden, Marilyn Wells, Chancellor of Penn State Brandywine, Ann Schwartzman of Inside Out, and Penn State Brandywine Professor Angela Putman.

Two students delivered remarks on the social issues of redlining and the treatment of people who are on the Autism Spectrum. Two other students, who were each nominated by other program participants, shared their experiences of the course and the impact it has had on them.  

“The passionate speeches reminded listeners that education is a right and mass incarceration is not rehabilitative,” said Warden Williams.

Over the past three years, the County has moved to change how it addresses public safety and reduce recidivism.

This year, Delaware County reassumed control of the George W. Hill Correctional Facility to remove the profit motive around incarceration and invest in the long-term health of residents.

Local jails, like Delaware County’s, house people who either have been accused of a crime and are awaiting a court hearing or have received a sentence of fewer than two years, typically for a relatively minor, non-violent offense. Nearly all will soon return to the community and pragmatic results-focused policies are key to reducing recidivism.

As many as 60 percent of the inmates at any time are recidivists, usually for minor crimes or parole violations. 

Inside-Out is designed to create opportunities for men and women, inside and outside of prison, to have transformative learning experiences that emphasize collaboration and dialogue, inviting participants to take leadership in addressing crime, justice, and other issues of social concern. 

Learn more about the Inside-Out program.

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