Roanoke College students and Roanoke County inmates take criminology class together

Published: Feb. 15, 2019 at 5:26 PM EST
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A new program in Roanoke County aims to help college students and inmates at the same time. It's called the "Inside Out Exchange Program."

Andrew hopes to further his education after he is released from the Roanoke County Salem Jail. He said, "I do plan on going to school when I get released."

He's now taking a class that may help him get there. "I tried, and maybe they give me a chance, just opening up my options," he said.

He's part of the Inside Out Exchange Program, where he gets to take a criminology class with 9 other inmates and 10 Roanoke College students.

He said, "It's definitely a game changer when you're incarcerated and you get to interact with real people on the outside, it's different than I expected and it's actually relaxing, therapeutic."

Sheriff Eric Orange of Roanoke County added, "I think it's a great chance for them to be able to continue their education and to realize that they can go on and do more, that there is something else out there, there's something more for them to do once they finish their time in incarceration."

The class is set up in a circle to create a space for open discussion and lessons about mass incarceration, white collar crime, and juvenile delinquency.

"It's life altering for everybody involved, so it changes me as a teacher pedagogically, it changes the insiders, it gives them an opportunity to engage with college peers and pro-social interactions, and it's also helping the outside students, many of whom are criminal justice majors, and this gives them an inside look at that system," Dr. Daisy Ball, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at Roanoke College, said.

The class culminates in a research project presented to administrative staff.