University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown

Crime and Public Policy Class Offers Very Real-World Experience

Ten Pitt-Johnstown students will go to jail in January.

They will be graded.

A Special Topics in Crime and Public Policy class in the 2019 Spring Term will take place within the State Correctional Institution-Laurel Highlands in Somerset.

According to Pitt-Johnstown Justice Administration and Criminology Professor Ross Kleinstuber, PhD, the real-world experience class will take place from 1-3 p.m. on Mondays. A campus van will shuttle students from the Krebs Hall parking lot to the prison.

Students were selected through an application process to the Crime and Public Policy course, which will be taught in the Inside-Out method. The Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program is an international, education program founded and housed at Temple University.

In addition to the 10 Pitt-Johnstown students, the class will include 10 inmates from the prison. The core values of Inside-Out are to bring incarcerated and non-incarcerated students together as peers.

“The benefit of the program is that it allows students to view criminal justice from a different perspective and gives them the opportunity to interact with one of society’s most stigmatized populations – prisoners – on an equal footing, thus helping to break down the walls (literal and figurative) that divide us by allowing students to see beyond the stereotypes of prisoners/criminals that are portrayed in the wider society,” said Dr. Kleinstuber.

“As stated on the Inside-Out webpage, this will, ideally, ‘facilitate dialogue and education across profound social differences.’”

According to Dr. Kleinstuber, the prison staff will determine which inmates are eligible for educational programs. They will undergo a similar application process with him.

“This is a great opportunity for Pitt-Johnstown students to learn first-hand about many of the challenges facing our criminal justice and corrections systems,” said Social Sciences Division Chair Ray Wrabley, PhD.

The University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown was founded in 1927 and is the first and largest regional campus of the University of Pittsburgh. Pitt-Johnstown is recognized by the Princeton Review as a “Best in the Northeast” college, by G.I. Jobs as a “Military Friendly School,” and by Pennsylvania Business Central as a "Top 100 Organization.” The distinctive combination of Pitt-Johnstown’s people, programs, and place results in exceptional performance in preparing students for career and professional success. Pitt-Johnstown is the regional leader, educating for success in the Real World.