MARQUETTE — The state of Michigan has over 40,000 incarcerated inmates.

For Criminal Justice students, this poses a perfect hands on learning opportunity. Two years ago, Michael Harrington introduced the Inside–Out program at NMU to do just that. The program was originally started in 1997 by Temple University. It brings university students into a locked correctional environment to talk to students who are also prisoners.

“This gives an opportunity to discuss major issues with respect to criminal justice with a population that normally students would never even talk with. So they get a whole other perspective and at the same time the inside population gets a different perspective on how maybe their life and how the crime problem is viewed from another aspect,” said Harrington, an Assistant Criminal Justice Professor at Northern Michigan University.

The Inside–Out program is fairly popular in Michigan, with around six prisons participating. Harrington’s class studies at Marquette Branch Prison. There are usually fifteen students from the university, and fifteen who are serving jail time. The prisoners have ranged in age from 18 to late 50’s, and have been convicted of a variety of crimes. The subject of the class can be anything, so long as it relates to social justice.

“Nationally, of course, there’s courses in criminal justice, criminology, there’s some in English, literature, poetry. I even believe there’s been a math class that they have somehow been able to mix in with a social justice component,” Harrington added.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Inside–Out program, Michael Harrington can be reached at 906–227–2658.