The Inside-Out Prison Exchange (CRJ/SOC/WGST 476/HONS 400) is a multidisciplinary class offered in the fall and winter semesters at UM-Dearborn. Typically, the class consists of 15 “inside” (incarcerated) students and 15 “outside” (university) students. The class takes place in Macomb Correctional Facility in Lenox Township, MI, about 45 minutes northeast of UM-Dearborn’s campus.

Every semester’s Inside-Out course is unique. [Over the past year], staffing issues at Macomb caused them to deny us entry to the facility. As such, our course has taken a particularly eclectic format. We meet in the Mardigian Library’s Ford Collaboratory, where two faculty members, 18 students, and a host of formerly incarcerated guest professors comprise our class, sitting together in a circle of diverse ideas and experiences. We were only able to exchange a few sets of letters with the Theory Group, the currently incarcerated individuals who would normally participate as inside students. 

Alongside the readings, in-class discussions, and reflection papers, each student participates in one of four group projects. One is an art show to celebrate and sell our inside students’ artwork, with the proceeds going to charity. Another is a chamber music performance of a musical piece and accompanying poem that were written to bring awareness and attention to individuals sentenced to life in prison as juveniles. There is also a group arranging a barbecue dinner where plainclothes police officers will bond with community members and then reveal themselves, with the goal of showing both police and the community that they aren’t as different as they might think. Finally, another group project focuses on bringing awareness to the campus community of issues related to incarceration, including a series of podcast interviews with formerly incarcerated guests and efforts to promote the other group projects. 

Zenon Sommers 

I see the Inside-Out Prison Exchange class as a kind of controlled accident, a form of wabi-sabi. This Japanese concept, rooted in Buddhist philosophy, celebrates the beauty of imperfection and transience. Inside-Out at its best is always incomplete, open-ended, and becoming; a communal balancing act where the energies unleashed in class discussions and exercises are perpetually pushing against the limits of the formal course structure. In the prison setting, the opposing polarities of experiences and expectations held by the inside and outside students generate an electric field of tension. The professor in this situation is more of a facilitator, or a circus ringleader, than an authoritative imparter of knowledge. This can be both scary and liberating. 

As the COVID-19 pandemic shut down access to the prison system for outside volunteers, which is how the Department of Corrections classifies university faculty and students, we had to adapt by bringing formerly incarcerated men and women, now “outside” of prison, “inside” the University to lead some of these discussions. At the same time, we sought to bring the voices of those still inside prisons to life for the class by reading their poetry, sharing their art, or hearing from their family members. From this kaleidoscopic collision of perspectives, shared insights emerge. Some of these are transformative, like the epiphanies emerging from direct observation in a haiku. Though professors get to bask in the glow, the fire is ignited by the chemistry of the group. 

Professor Paul Draus, Ph.D. 
The Inside-Out Center, in coordination with Philadelphia Inside-Out Instructors, has been offering free Inside-Out courses via Zoom to formerly incarcerated and justice-involved community students since the pandemic began. This initiative was made possible during this academic year (fall 21 and spring 22) with support from the MacArthur Safety and Justice Challenge Microgrant Committee of the Philadelphia Criminal Justice Microgrant Fund Grant.

Students successfully completing the courses receive credit, CEUs, and/or certificates.

Attached please find the current flier for the Fall 2022 semester. Feel free to share it with anyone you know who may be interested. The classes are virtual and all interested justice-involved students can sign up. Registration is now open.


Please contact Ann ( or John (  for more information or send an email to to sign up.

Download Fall Classes Flyer
When Ohio Northern University criminal justice major Christafer Suarez, BS '22, received his diploma this spring, it marked the end of the first phase of his professional education. Suarez’s experience as a criminal justice student at ONU helped present him with a range of experiential learning opportunities, none more impactful than the intense, hands-on, high-impact Inside-Out program.
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The DePaul University Sankofa Black Student Formation Program hosted a celebration of the wealth of Black excellence, the first-ever at DePaul to recognize the accomplishments of students, faculty, and alumni. Inside-Out was honored to receive special recognition for training faculty and students. Additionally, Inside-Out trained instructor Christina Rivers’ Inside-Out class received the Excellence in Scholarship, Perseverance, and Solidarity award.

Congratulations to all students and educators for their amazing work!

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Pitzer College alumnus Freddy Cisneros ’21, who graduated last year with a degree in organizational studies, has been accepted to the Executive Fellowship Program, a 10-month public policy fellowship offered through Sacramento State University’s Capital Fellows Programs. Cisneros is one of eight members of an initial cohort of students from the California Rehabilitation Center (CRC) who have graduated from Pitzer through the Inside-Out Pathway-to-BA program.

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Kenneth Butler credited his grandmother's encouragement and his experience in Pitzer's Inside-Out Pathway-to-BA Program for the transformation in his life and talked about his Fulbright plan to study Uganda's prison system and its low recidivism rate.

"If I wouldn't have enrolled in this program, I don't know what my life would have been."


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In 1995, Lori Pompa, a professor with the criminal justice department at Temple University, toured the State Correctional Institution at Dallas, Pennsylvania, with 15 undergraduate students. This sparked an idea—The Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program—that is now an international #TempleMade concept that changes people’s lives.

Check out this Q&A with Lori Pompa, the founder and executive director of The Inside-Out Center at Temple, the international headquarters of the program.


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In 2021, we were privileged to have had 172 educators take our training program!

Many of our new instructors come from backgrounds in different academic disciplines, some of the most common being…
- Art
- Criminal Justice
- Sociology
- English
- History
- Law
- Psychology

Additionally, our trainings attracted instructors with interests in Justice and Community Studies, Reentry, Healthcare in Prisons, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Corrections, Human Rights, and Restorative Justice.

In the United States, many of our new instructors were from…

- Ohio (18.9%)
- Pennsylvania (16.5%)
- California (11%)
- Wisconsin (6.1%)

While most of our instructors are centralized in the United States, we were able to train new international instructors from…

- Canada
- New Zealand
- United Kingdom

At the same time we embrace and welcome new instructors, we also want to highlight the amazing work done by current Inside-Out instructors. Many of our certified instructors went above and beyond for the Inside-Out community in 2021 by teaching courses, writing articles and books, hosting workshops and dialogues, supporting community members with their work, and much more. 

An archived list of our past newsletters can be found here – there are lots of inspiring stories to enjoy and share!

We look forward to continuing to support our thriving community and encourage everyone to stay connected on social media.
The 2022 Training Institute schedule is now available. PLEASE SHARE THIS UPDATED BROCHURE WITH YOUR NETWORKS! During 2022, our training sessions will continue to be held virtually, since there are still challenges with meeting in person, accessing the inside of correctional facilities, as well as travel limitations and quarantine requirements for certain areas. 

The brochure for 2022 is available below, listing trainings throughout the year, all to be held via Zoom. For each of the trainings, a number of formerly incarcerated Inside-Out alumni (“coaches”) join us for about half of the time to support the learning process of the participants. This approach has worked very well, and we have been able to involve coaches from throughout the US and beyond. 

Additionally, a couple of universities have held trainings specifically for faculty from their campuses (e.g., The Ohio State Univ., Towson State Univ.). As more campuses get involved in expanding educational programming for folks in prison, a specialized training can provide great support and community-building for ongoing program development. If your university may be interested in exploring possibilities, please be in touch with Eilene Frierson (

WE RELY QUITE A BIT ON WORD OF MOUTH AND GETTING THE INFORMATION OUT THROUGH NETWORKS, SO WE HOPE YOU CAN HELP US IN THAT WAY. Feel free to share this information at conferences and/or with any discipline-based associations with which you may be connected. 
Download 2022 Brochure
More Information on Trainings
Thanks for reading our newsletter! We look forward to the continued sharing of Inside-Out stories that connect and inspire our community. Are you interested in adding an article or link to a news piece in our next newsletter? Send all suggestions to
Donate to Inside-Out
MB 299-06, Suite 301, 1938 Liacouras Walk, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA 19122
Phone: 215-204-5163

© 2022 Temple University

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