The small city of Petoskey, Michigan, isn’t far from the Chippewa Correctional Facility, but during the summer of 2016, the city and the prison got a lot closer. It started when an inmate from Chippewa wrote a letter to SCORE’s Tip of the Mitt chapter in Petoskey. SCORE is a nonprofit association that provides education, counseling, and…

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An innovative learning program that brings together incarcerated and traditional students is breaking down barriers and giving meaningful and transformative learning experiences to all involved. The Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program (IOPE) is a national initiative that launched nearly 20 years ago. This program brings together inmates with non-inmates, and the unique mix of students spend a semester…

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By Christopher Zoukis Prison might be the last place you would expect to see a great performance of Shakespeare. But for more than a decade, Marin Shakespeare Company in California has taught Shakespeare in several prisons, and to rave reviews. In 1989, the company launched to reinvigorate Shakespeare in Northern California, but has expanded its…

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By Christopher Zoukis In the ongoing discussion of prison reform, mass incarceration and reducing recidivism, vocational programs are often overlooked in favor of formal educational courses and other activities and programming. Maybe it is assumed that most incarcerated individuals have access to, and participate in, vocational training and prison jobs. At least that’s what popular…

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By Christopher Zoukis It’s easy to think only of the crimes committed when words like “offender,” “incarceration” or “prisoner” come up. But we should remember that many offenders in our system of incarceration will be released each year, hoping to become functioning and productive members of society. With support and rehabilitation, these individuals can become…

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By Christopher Zoukis The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections spent 2016 making laudable strides toward helping improve the state of mass incarceration in this country. Corrections Secretary John Wetzel made a statement in December outlining improvements the Department of Corrections (DOC) has made in public, prisoner, and staff safety, improving transparency and fiscal responsibility, providing more…

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