Ten inmates from Roanoke County jail and ten students from Roanoke College come together each Friday to study criminological theory. The special course is known as “Inside-Out”, which you can read more about here.
Dr. Daisy Ball, an assistant professor of criminal justice at Roanoke College, teaches the course. Although the students and inmates come from various backgrounds, they all are tasked with critically analyzing various social problems using theories.
“They’re taking part in a rigorous college course, just like any course I would normally teach at Roanoke College,” said Ball. “The only difference here is that it’s taking part and place in the correctional facility.”
Inmates actively participated in group assignments and activities with the college students. For some, it’s a breath of fresh air.
“I got to where I was isolated and this kind of brought me back out,” said Andrew, an inmate at Roanoke County/Salem Jail. “The interaction has definitely opened me up.”
The class will graduate its first class of participants in the spring, and it is one of a handful of programs in the Commonwealth. Dr. Ball is hopeful the program will continue in months to come.
“It’s life-altering for everyone involved,” said Ball. “It changes me as a teacher in a pedagogy. It changes the insiders — it gives them an opportunity to engage with college peers and pro-social interactions. It’s also helping the outside students, many of whom are criminal justice majors and are pursuing a possible career in law enforcement, and this gives them an inside look at that system.”