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Well over 500 students at The College of New Jersey have had the opportunity to interact with local inmate populations, either through one-on-one tutoring, teaching or learning in joint classes. Several of these students shared the following comments with the Institute for Prison Teaching and Outreach about their experiences:

I just want to thank you and everyone who works with the Center for Prison Outreach. I am the newest intern at Founders Education due largely impart to the work I was able to do at CRAF. This program has already, after one semester, brought so much to me. I have learned valuable lesson from the inmates, started to test out my teaching skills, and have been able to use my experience to help me gain this job. It was what we talked about during my interview here, as the experience was interesting and also displayed my ability to adapt and overcome issues of dealing with people (inmates at CRAF and teacher and parents here). I am so grateful for this program and can’t wait to continue once the semester starts up again!

-Kaity, a tutor at the Central Reception and Assignment Facility (CRAF)

I am sad to leave. This experience has been awesome. It has really opened my eyes and caused me to care even more about these people. Many of them want to make a better life for themselves and I loved helping them do that and getting to know them. Each person has their own story and unique personality; they are not just a criminal.

-Jessica, a tutor at the Central Reception and Assignment Facility (CRAF)

I found tutoring at CRAF to be an extremely memorable experience. The inmates were very friendly and polite, making me look forward to every week. The conversations we had were quite insightful and through them, I was able to truly learn that to err is human. There is no better way for self-improvement than through education, especially if one has a willingness to learn.

-Ruchi, a tutor at the Central Reception and Assignment Facility (CRAF)

I really enjoyed the experience and took great joy in seeing the inmates’ pride when they realized they knew what they were doing and were grasping on to the work they had in front of them. They were very focused on their work and it gives me hope they will be able to improve themselves, by getting a GED and gaining more knowledge, while in prison. Thank you for the opportunity!

-Greg, a tutor at the Central Reception and Assignment Facility (CRAF)

I learned so much more from the environment than the class material.  Being in a class with inmates brought the challenges of the American judicial system to life.  The way the prison functioned, the interactions between the inmates and the guards, and the stories of our ACW classmates made the text pertinent.  I was nervous at first, but by the end of the first class I was sorry to leave and couldn’t wait to go back.  I would strongly recommend that anyone with an interest takes a class or volunteers at Albert C. Wagner and it’s not just for criminal justice majors.

-Jessica, a tutor and participant in a joint course with TCNJ students and inmates at the Albert C. Wagner Youth Correctional Facility.

I have recently been hired at an alternative school (through Teach for America) and cannot be more excited.  I went through the most rigorous interview process and I know that it is my experiences at Wagner that have put me so far ahead of everyone else.  My next two years will be very similar to my time at Wagner in terms of the students I will be teaching.  Needless to say I’m ready for anything and can’t wait to meet my students.

-Kelly, a student who has taught a class to inmates as well as a tutor at the Albert C. Wagner Youth Correctional Facility.

As a Criminology major, it is a life changing opportunity to be able to work with prisoners: those who have gone through the processing of the criminal justice system. Although the service and the education I am able to provide to the inmates, in itself, is very rewarding, I appreciate the chance to serve as a positive link to the outside. As a prisoner, these young men have very limited access to society and have minimal contact with “outsiders.”

-Ryan, a student who has taught a class to inmates as well as participated in a joint class at the Albert C. Wagner Youth Correctional Facility.

Our ACW students are interested, thoughtful, and curious. They come to class each week with an open mind, questions, and new ideas. It is refreshing to be instructing a group who truly cares about what you are saying. For me, it is the absolute least I can do. I believe that everyone should have access to education, and through my involvement with this program I am able to offer such an opportunity to incarcerated men who are looking not only to occupy their time behind bars, but to better themselves and enrich their lives…My time at Albert C. Wagner Youth Correctional Facility has proven to me just how effective small acts of kindness can be.

-Jill, a student who has taught a class, tutored and participated in a joint class at the Albert C. Wagner Youth Correctional Facility.

My experience so far at the Jones Farm Facility has been very productive and definitely worthwhile. The atmosphere is very safe and I feel completely comfortable working with the inmates (it has been one on one). The two men I have worked with both seem to be eager to learn, as I worked with each for about two hours each session on math and English. It has been a very rewarding and grounding experience thus far and I would recommend it to anyone interested.

– Kiel, a tutor at the Jones Farm Correctional Facilities.

Want to share your own experiences with CPOE? Email us!