In taking a look back over the span of this course, the first thing that comes to mind is how we able to do some groundbreaking work on an issue that really gets no love or attention. It was incredible to hear, learn, and see the realities of the justice system. I never imagined myself sitting across from a “prisoner”, who I now consistently try to refer as people who are incarcerated thanks to Shaka Senghor. Hearing their stories really gave me perspective on how lucky and blessed I am to have so many great opportunities in life that they never really had. Hearing about their challenging family conflicts and their problems really made me see them not as prisoners, but people just like us. I couldn’t fathom actually being in a class of prisoners talking about the issues they face to successfully re-enter society. I can’t believe we made a functional website that people who were formerly incarcerated can use to live a much better life.
But you know what? I can believe it. All of it. We crushed it as a class and I have met a bunch of new people in our class and in the correctional facility. They all helped me look at these problems from a new perspective and in a much more complete way. I learned about the lack of resources in jails and prisons for rehabilitation. I learned about the struggle of hanging around and vegetating in the pod/cell all day leads to no motivation on the outside to change from their old ways.
The CBL component of this course was superb. I really enjoyed spending time with my classmates while actively making a difference in the world. Seeing the smiles and thankfulness from the people who were incarcerated in the facility really was a feel good moment, not for myself or the class, but for them, that they had a new source of hope and ambition to now have the resources to change for the better on the outside.