correctional education; jail
In this article, we discuss the challenges and potential benefits of teaching in the “revolving-door” of the criminal justice system: county jails. Massachusetts jails hold pre-trial offenders as well as those serving sentences of up to 2.5 years. Over four semesters, we have learned that flexibility and creativity are necessary to navigate the challenges this heterogeneous population presents, not the least of which is a class in constant flux. In spite of many challenges of teaching in a jail, the classes we teach give students a recovered or newfound belief in their own self-worth and ability, opportunities for intellectual engagement, and encouragement to pursue a positive future. In addition, many of the incarcerated students are local and, when released, are likely to return to these same communities; the potential for successful partnership with nearby colleges to assist with reentry should not be overlooked.
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