CHICAGO – Through education, this story highlights the merging of two different worlds — students from DePaul University and men in custody at the Cook County Jail.
The Inside Out program, founded in Pennsylvania and implemented locally by DePaul University for the past 12 years, allows inmates to take college courses for credit.
“This is the first time it’s been taught and it’s the only math course that’s taught in jail or prisons in the entire country,” said Dr. Helen Damon-Moore, Associate Director of the Steans Center at DePaul University.
The emphasis on education as a bridge from the outside to the inside is evident as both students and inmates complete the same honors math course. Despite the physical barrier of barbed wire, the learning environment promotes collaboration and problem-solving.
This story introduces two individuals, Adam Flores, who has been detained for almost a year, and Quincy Hayes, a senior at DePaul set to graduate – illustrating the diverse backgrounds of the participants.
“I just graduated here from high school in August,” said Flores.
The program seems to be breaking down stereotypes and fostering a sense of unity, challenging the notion of one side being “right” and the other “wrong.” Instead, the focus is on everyone coming together to solve problems and search for answers.
“I grew up with my dad working as a federal prosecutor,” said Hayes. “I wanted to look and get experience in it with a look at the other side.”
Flores expresses increased confidence and a desire to study electrical engineering upon his release, indicating the positive impact of education on personal growth and future goals.
“Having the college students rely on us for certain problems, it let me know I still got it in the classroom,” Flores said.
Overall, this narrative captures the transformative potential of education in unconventional settings and how it can bring people from different walks of life together.
“The more you add on the educational side of it, the less you have people coming back and recidivating,” said Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart. “With that educational component, it also shows people staying in jobs longer, being able to access jobs as well.”