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.

Author Bio

Brittnie Aiello is an Associate Professor in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Merrimack College. She earned her PhD in Sociology from the University of Massachusetts in 2011. Her research focuses on maternal incarceration and the effects of mass incarceration on the family.

Emma Duffy-Comparone is a fiction writer and assistant professor of creative writing at Merrimack College. Her stories have appeared in Ploughshares, AGNI, New England Review, One Story, The American Scholar, The Sun, The Pushcart Prize XXXIX & XLI and elsewhere.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.



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