Every Wednesday night in the winter and summer of 2007, more than a dozen OSU students traveled to Salem to attend class with 15 incarcerated men at the Oregon State Penitentiary.
The class is a result of a unique program known as The Inside–Out Prison Exchange Program, and OSU’s Michelle Inderbitzin was the first on the West Coast to teach it in a maximum–security men’s prison.
The program allows students outside and inside the prison to learn from one another’s experiences, Inderbitzin says. "This has been the most rewarding part of my career so far, and I believe it has truly changed the lives of many of my students."
In 2005, the associate professor in sociology received an L.L. Stewart Faculty Development Award for training in the national program, which is based at Temple University in Philadelphia.
Her special topics course on Crime, Justice and Public Policy allows OSU students to learn about prison life and the justice system from prisoners’ perspectives. And while inmates do not get credit for the class, Inderbitzin says they have been eager to share their experiences and engage on issues on a deep level.