The Inside-Out Podcast

This podcast tells stories from the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program, an international educational program with an innovative pedagogical approach tailored to effectively facilitate dialogue across difference. It originated as a means of bringing together campus-based college students with incarcerated students for a semester-long course held in a prison, jail or other correctional setting. This podcast is produced by the Inside-Out Center, which trains and equips higher education instructors to teach courses comprised of incarcerated and non-incarcerated students.
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Dec 22, 2020

This episode of the Inside-Out Podcast features Dr. Gulia Zampini and Dr. Camille Stengel, who both teach at the School of Law and Criminology at the University of Greenwich in the United Kingdom. They both completed the Inside-Out Instructor Training Institute in 2017. Inside-Out courses have been held in the UK since 2014. For the past few years, they have been co-teaching Inside-Out courses at a women’s prison called HMP Downview. 

The Inside-Out podcast is hosted by Dave Krueger from The Inside-Out Center, the international headquarters of The Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program at Temple University’s College of Liberal Arts. To learn more about our Inside-Out Instructor Training Institutes, click HERE. To support the expansion of Inside-Out activities around the world, please make your contribution HERE

Episode Transcription

David Krueger: This episode of The Inside-Out Podcast features two university lecturers and three of their Inside-Out students from the United Kingdom. Dr. Gulia Zampini and Dr. Camille Stengel both teach at the School of Law and Criminology at the University of Greenwich in the United Kingdom, just outside of London. For the past few years, they have been co-teaching Inside-Out courses at a women’s prison called HMP Downview. Dr. Zampini and Dr. Stengel speaks with three of their outside students Maddy, Becca, and Amy. You’ll hear their voices after this word of introduction about Inside-Out from Tyrone Werts. 

Tyrone Werts: The Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program facilitates dialogue and education across social barriers. Inside-Out courses bring campus-based college students and incarcerated students together in jails and prisons for semester-long learning. These courses ignite enthusiasm for learning, help students find their voice, and challenge students to consider what good citizenship requires. Since Temple University professor Lori Pompa taught the first class in 1997, Inside-Out has grown into an international network of more than 1,000 trained instructors from across the US and several countries. Prisons and universities have partnered to create opportunities for more than 40,000 inside and outside students to move beyond the walls that separate them. We are more than a program...we are changing the world. 

Camille S: Hi, I'm Camille. I'm one of the facilitators with the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program at the University of Greenwich in London, England. And I've been working on Inside-Out in partnerships with a prison called HMP Downview for the past three years, and I've been working on it with my colleague, Guilia, who's also here.

Giulia Z: Hi everyone. I'm Giulia. I'm Senior Lecturer in criminology at the University of Greenwich, and I work alongside Camille on Inside-Out. We've had our partnership for three years and it's been an amazing and inspiring journey and today we have with us three of our students who have taken Inside-Out and they're outside students and they're joining us today just to talk about their experience with Inside Out. So we're really excited. Do you guys want to introduce yourselves?

Becca: I'm Becca. I'm a second year criminology student at University of Greenwich.

Amy: I’m Amy. I'm also a second year student at Greenwich.

Maddy: I'm Maddy and I'm also a second year criminology student at Greenwich.

Giulia Z: I think you can say third year now.

Becca: Yeah, my third year.

Giulia Z: Excellent. Okay. So our first question is really about your involvement in Inside-Out and whether this involvement—this participation—has changed your future plans? Has it impacted your future plans in any way?

Becca: Should I go first?

Maddy: Yeah.

Becca: For me it's made me want to stay within the criminal justice system and, and that, that's kind of, I mean, it's been a big influence for me. I think, I think as well that obviously it's proved to me how prisons really are. And I was really quite scared to go into work in prisons, because I was really quite scared that they were going to be a terrible place. And really, they're not, and I think that's one of the main reasons as to why it's influenced me to stay kind of within that region, the criminal justice system.

Amy: I think for me it has not necessarily impacted in terms of career because there's small aspects in the criminal justice system that I wouldn't mind going into. This is just one of them. It's certainly shaped my life in general, it's made me become more open minded about situations and the privilege that I have as a person not being incarcerated. Like, a very humbling experience it’s been.

Maddy: Yeah, I mean, for me, I would definitely say it has impacted my future plans. I mean like Becca, I would say that I was always quite scared to work in a prison. I thought like you never know what could happen. I really didn't know what a prison even looks like before Inside Out. And I would definitely say it has changed my plans because before starting uni and even before starting Inside Out, I never wanted to work in a prison, it wasn't an interest of mine. I didn't particularly feel that there was a lot of important work going on there. But having done Inside Out. I would say that was a very naive perspective. Like there's definitely a lot that you could do and a lot that the prison system could benefit from from working in there. So I would definitely say that it has changed my future plans and the career I'd like to go into. So, yeah.

Camille S: Great, thanks. That's so interesting to hear about, it's yeah, it made you change how you think about your future career plans, but also Amy's point about how it's shaped how she thinks about her life in general. I was wondering if we could go down that direction a bit more and either Amy or Becca or Maddy, if you resonated with what Amy said about Inside Out helping her become more open minded and think about specifically that privilege of not being incarcerated. I wonder if maybe Amy, you could start and elaborate on what you mean by that, and Maddie and Becca, if that resonates with you, you could add to it.

Amy: So, In terms of privilege, I'm referring to the fact that I'm not stuck inside the prison 24/7. I am able to go to university and I'm able to study and learn about the justice system and how it can be fundamentally flawed and people don't necessarily think of prison education as something very important. I think there's this mindset that ignorance is bliss and they sort of throw away the key once they're locked up and we just shun them leaving be. 

Becca: Yeah, so I'm just going with Amy's point and I think before I started studying criminology, I had the kind of perspective that if you're in a jail or if you're in prison then you've done something to get there and Inside-Out completely changed my perspective. Completely because you go into the prison and actually they're not horrible people. They're not these horrible scary people that the media and other people make out criminals to be and although they may have committed a crime, it doesn't make them horrible people. So I think that it has made me understand my privilege in a way that I can get up and go to the shop if I want to. I think we've all kind of been in a position. Wrong place, wrong time where we could have ended up in prison. And so not always people in there as well are completely guilty. So, you know, I think that it’s kind of made me realize the flaws of the criminal justice system and how in my career, I can help put those wrongs right and as Amy said, I believe that prison education is absolutely incredible. And I feel like we need to get rid of that as young criminologists and criminologists together really and get rid of that stigma of ‘Criminals are horrible people’ and you know once someone enters the prison system society does just wash their hands with them. And I think it's, it's awful. So in my career, it’s made me want to, as an individual, change people's perspectives or change the general public's perspective. And that's why I'm so grateful for this program. For me that perspective, and to understand my privilege in society.

Maddy: I mean, yeah, I would definitely agree with what you both said, I think one of the biggest things that all of us learn and like I think Inside Out brought out in it also is privilege. I think now I wouldn't use the term ‘lucky’. I think we all say, ‘Oh, I'm lucky for that’, ‘I'm lucky for this’, but I would definitely say it's because we're privileged now. I mean, obviously, like you said, we're privileged because we're not in prison. And I think many people would say, ‘Oh, I didn't commit crimes. Why would I be in prison?’ But I think it's more than that, like the prison system is flawed, the criminal justice system is flawed and I think we don't think about the people that are in there that shouldn't be because they'd have a lack of privilege. We don't think about the people that probably have committed crimes that are not in prison because of their privilege and like us, like Becca said, some of us could have been in compromising positions that could have got us in different situations and because of our privilege that hasn't happened for us. And I think to understand that and acknowledge it is the first step of helping because I think now that we know that from Inside Out that's brought that out in us, I think we can now move forward in our careers and use that to then help others.

Giulia Z: Yeah, that's sad. That's a very, very strong sense that I get from all of you that you've really grasped the kind of fundamental principle of what Inside Out is about and that's really, it's a powerful thing to hear because you are young people and of course you are students of criminology, but I'm kind of curious about what maybe the differences between like what you learned in the books and what you learned in connection with other people in dialogue with other people in the inside out classroom compared to a traditional classroom, a lecture room, or you know, even connecting and talking to your peers or also University. Anyone want to go first?

Becca: Can I go?

Maddy: Yeah, go, go.

Becca: Yes. So I think for me, and it's, it's all well and good learning from a book. I mean you do learn a lot of the legal side obviously through books. You can't really learn that by entering a prison as such. But you see the practices and how the criminal justice system actually plays out for people and how most of the people, most of the inside students that after a while, you get to speak to and you get to know. They sometimes, if obviously they want to, they don't have to, but one of the inside students told me about her story and I'm obviously not going to say what the story was but her journey. For example, I mean, she was a black individual and she only had one black juror and the black juror was the only one that found her not guilty. And for me, like just hearing that and kind of sitting there and listening to—obviously there's a bigger story but hearing what she had to say—it really pulled on my heartstrings, and you would never learn that from a book. You can never learn that from, although our lectures are amazing. They have a lot of stories to tell you. It’s different when you sit there and you hear that firsthand and you see the heartbreak and you see what these individuals, these people have been through, because I think that sometimes it's easy to forget that although, obviously not, not for us because we've experienced it, but for the media they're just a number. It’s ‘Oh, this person's committed a crime’. They’re this, that they're nasty people, but they're really not. And I think that is the most amazing thing that anyone could ask for, I think, especially with what we study, and actually going face to face with these criminals. You know, I mean, they're not horrible people and it hurts me that they're portrayed in that way. And, and I think It's incredible that we've had the opportunity to go in and actually sit there and learn for ourselves, instead of in books. So yeah, that was kind of my experience with it.

Amy: Yeah, I get what you're saying. Becca, it's, it's one thing to learn the academics, the research into the topics that we've covered, such as drugs, sex work. It's another thing to listen to somebody’s perspective, who's gone through the system and experienced how flawed it sometimes can be. And what you said earlier— everyone makes mistakes in life. And it could just be one mistake that lands you in prison, and then you have to deal with the stigma for the rest of your life. And I'm so grateful that I've had the experience on Inside-Out, talked to the inside students, because it's really changed my perspective on a lot of topics and that's just something you can't get from sitting in a lecture for like an hour, or reading academic research.

Maddy: Yeah, I mean I would completely agree with that. I think it's such a unique experience. I think that's one of the things that a lot of us, why we wanted to do it was because there's nothing like it. There's no opportunity like it for university students and I just think everyone should just go for it because it was just so eye opening and insightful. I mean, learning from books is great. Obviously, all of us go to university, we expect that we expect to be sitting at lectures and seminars and learning things and a lot of it is facts and figures and I think having that life experience is so important. Obviously, we will never fully understand what it's like to be in prison, we’ll never fully understand what the criminal justice system is like because we haven't had that first hand experience but sitting there and hearing what everyone else has to say, how the inside students feel, what their day to day life is like, has been really helpful. And I think it has benefited us all to know that because we can use that in our degrees, we can use that in later life and I think that is just a unique experience that we won't get again as university students and I think having that is actually probably sometimes more beneficial than learning from a textbook, because it is you've seen it firsthand. You know it's true. You know, you've sort of done the research because you're there, like, you know, what's happening and I think as well in, in the world, they don't tell you all the bad things, necessarily. And in books, they might not state what's going on and hearing the inside students' own  experiences was really interesting because I can't say that I knew things that they'd said, and obviously when we had discussions we had their opinions and some were different, some were the same but they were sort of more informed because they've been through it. So I thought that was really interesting. And that was really beneficial as well.

Camille S: Great. These are all quite fascinating points in the threads between them in terms of getting that firsthand experience that you don't get in books. I'd like to challenge you on that though, because in a way it's almost like y'all came into the prison with like nothing to offer, that you were just empty vessels there to listen, listen to the inside students and gain their knowledge. How did it, how did it help you grow as, as criminologists who you know, at the time you came into Inside Out you had a year and a half, maybe two and a half years if you're an extended student of learning under your, under your belt. So well, we've looked at the differences between Inside Out and maybe more traditional academic learning with books. I wonder if there were any synergies. So if you saw anything you could connect the dots, for example with, you know, the classes you've done so far and Inside Out.

Maddy: I mean, for me personally. So one of the modules I did other than Inside-Out this year was ‘Inequality of Justice’ and I think that links so closely to the Inside-Out program because obviously a lot of the Inside students were black. And they also, we had a minority ethnic from Outside as well. And I think that was important because hearing their stories and hearing what happened to them. And obviously we're going with ‘That's truth’. Their experience to us is the truth and we're hearing these stories and I'm thinking the whole time like ‘That's interesting’ because I've learned that from the inequalities modules and I'm hearing things and that is sort of putting it in place and showing that that does happen and you hear the statistics of how often things like this happen and how often BAME backgrounds are imprisoned. It's unfair, and I think that was really shown in Inside Out and I think that sort of taught me like this is serious. This is a big issue, like and we need to move forward and change this in any way we can. And I think that made it more for me, doing Inside Out  like, ‘Okay, right. This is like we need to do something like in the future. I want to be in a career where I can like change this’, because we are all the unit university students that are going to be the next generation of people that hopefully can change this. And I think all our other modules lead up to it up to this, like, not just Inside Out , not just the inequalities modules, but everything we've learned is sort of put into place for now on. Yeah.

Camille S: Maddy, can you just explain what BAME means because that's a UK term.

Maddy: Yes. Oh, sorry, sorry Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic so

Becca: I think as well. Adding on from Maddy’s point, it's made me realize my, my voice. I think before I entered criminology, in my own journey, I found it really hard to express myself in a certain way. And when I found criminology, it was amazing. But I speak about criminology, a lot. And when I entered the Inside Out module and I was in a big group of people, it allowed me to sit and listen to other people and acknowledge it and appreciate it and then respond and challenge myself and challenge my peers. And then I was then able to put that into practice in my own life in my own personal life, as well as my professional, my professional life. And I'd like to think that it's got me to where I am today. And so for me, I think, yeah, I don't really know. What was I gonna say, where was I going with that? Again as Maddy said, I studied the ‘Inequalities of Justice’ course and I also studied criminology so I had a lot of previous education on prisons and kind of the inequalities of the justice system and, and I did understand kind of what was going on. But I think when you sit down in a prison. And you know, I think we all at times, got a bit frustrated, especially with the alarms going off for the movement not being at a certain time, so their lives are never structured. And that, for me, was one big thing about entering the prison. I love structure in my life, and, and for me, having-, thinking about having that privilege taken away from me is, is daunting. So there's things like that, that you can't learn about from books. You can't learn about how much right and how many of their rights are taken away and you know their normal day to day lives that they would have, I mean at Downview prison they eat, sleep and go to the toilet in the same place, and they're there at the moment 23 hours a day, and there's not an hour that goes past I don't think about those girls or anyone in incarceration at the moment and it's-, it's painful when you, you can't learn about those things unless you firsthand experienced it. And I think it's something that almost everyone should experience because it has completely changed my life and my career and my everyday life choices.

Amy: For me, I'm very similar. Before coming to university, I'm gonna hold my hands up here. I was very naive about those who are sent to prison, about prisons in general and I never thought that those who are incarcerated could be victims and it wasn't until I started learning in our criminology courses and then learning through Inside Out that those incarcerated are victims as well, just not necessarily in the same way that they can be victims, may have committed a crime because they they're poor and they can't afford food, so they may have stolen that foods, that doesn't make them any less of a victim. It's just, it's different. It really, really opened my eyes and made me reflect on how naive I was before this.

Giulia Z: So you're identifying a lot of thorny, thorny issues there. You, you're talking about your naivety and the fact that you, you know, I'm just trying to kind of summarize it and put it all together here. Your naivety but also your lack of experience, your lack of experiential knowledge about things that you come from. You’re all white girls, you come from, you know your background, you know, maybe you have a varied class background, but you're all, probably don't have this that you know you can never experience the world as a black person. And you would never, you can never experience the world in the sense, in, in the terms of institutional racism, because you're not subjected to that. And then you can read the word institutional racism in a book, but it's not going to have the same meaning as when you encounter it in a person who is in front of you or a human being who has experienced deprivation because of their skin color, right. So I think it's pretty powerful. That kind of Move from, you know, from a position of naivety to a position of knowledge, which can, which can then empower you to do something about it. Right? And, Yeah, so maybe let's, let's try this if you could put your finger on one thing that you would do differently or think about differently or, you know, just react to differently or act upon differently, what would that be one thing for each of you? Sorry, I put you on the spot.

Amy: So for me

Maddy: Just a slight doubt. Is this Inside-Out, or is this life?

Giulia Z: I think, I think life. But, you know, obviously, it could be something that isn't spot like that. Inside Out has inspired, maybe not directly, but you know we had conversations before where we talked about, you know, ‘What are you doing right now? How are you reacting to the current things, like state of affairs? Is there something that you feel you're doing differently because you've gained this sensitivity to injustice?’ Yeah.

Amy: I have always been quite reserved. I've never really spoken out. I've never really enjoyed talking in front of people. I've always found it really nerve racking and so I just wouldn't say anything. And I started feeling like that in Inside Out. I didn’t contribute in a group, in a huge group discussion as much because I'm a very nervous person .I don't necessarily want to say. I sometimes struggle articulating how I feel. And I don't want it to necessarily be taken the wrong way when I just struggle. But now that I’ve finished Inside Out,I am a lot more vocal and I am able to talk about issues more. I mean, if you'd asked me to do this podcast a year ago I would have said no, I would have been so nervous to do it. But now I am more confident and I can do that.

Becca: I think for me it has quite literally been the opposite from what Amy said. I'm very, very outspoken, very outspoken and, and before the course, completely hands up, admittedly, everyone that knows me will say, I'm always the person to stand up and fight for what's right. I always have my heart on my sleeve and I, my heart is always in the best place, but I will always stand up and say ‘You're wrong’ or

‘This is how I feel’. And with Inside Out you cannot do that because there is no right and there is no wrong. It is just people's experiences within the criminal justice system and outside of the criminal justice system, not what we learned from books. So for me it was the whole concept of sitting there, keeping my mouth shut, and listening to people, and and that is one thing that's completely changed my life. Like even if I listen to the TV, speaking over it, and ‘Oh my god what is he saying?’ or ‘What, what’s going on, so confused. Why is he saying this? Why is he saying that?’ or ‘That's wrong, because I know this fact, I know that fact’ whereas I started to sit, sit back and listen to what people have to say. And then argue my point in, in a different way, without making someone feel like they're wrong. And so for me, that, that's, what, what I'd say it's made me more. I don't want to say more reserved because it's not changed the way that I feel the way that I think it's just changed the way that I communicate with people in an educational matter in, in a respectful way within my career. And I think that's one thing that I really struggled with before. And because I was very, I don't want to say confrontation in an argumentative way, but I did very much say ‘I think you're wrong’ without allowing the person to kind of finish or say what they want to say. So for me, it's been incredible. It's been an incredible experience. So, definitely, yes.

Maddy: I mean, I think for me, one big thing is judging people. I mean, I wouldn't say that I was particularly judgmental before Inside Out. I wouldn't say that I’d look at someone on the street and be like ‘Ugh’ and judge them. But I think after being in Inside Out and things, I think a lot of people have this perception of people that are incarcerated and people that were in prison and then have come out of prison. I think people do judge them. And I think that's knowing now, the people I've met are people just like us, that we're all human, we've all had different backgrounds, we all have different life experiences. And I think you can never judge someone until you know the circumstances. And I think after hearing, I mean, however many Inside students there were. I can't even remember now, probably about eight or nine but hearing each of them and background and the ones that shared with us and trusted us with this information. I feel like, how can you then, we'll pass on one and then pass an opinion when you don't even know what they've been through in their life. And I think that goes for everyone. Not even just people in prison. And I would definitely put that down to Inside Out making me like that because I just think, obviously you can never judge a book by it's cover and things, but particularly just like if you had someone out there, an ex-offender then people are like ‘Oh, I wouldn't employ them’. But then why like, they're just like the rest of us. And I think now, say I was an employee or a CEO of a company or whatever, pitting big ideas out there, but I just would never be like because of that you couldn't be working for me or you can be in a company or I would, I would work for someone who was an ex-offender. It wouldn't bother me in the slightest. And I would definitely put that down to being in Inside-Out 

Camille S: That's great. There is a lot here about listening and empathy, and, and I think listening like, as well Amy, what you were saying, you'd be more confident and being able to share your opinion is also the confidence that people will listen to what you have to say and, and, you know, Becca with you saying you've taken a step back that's, I think the beauty of the balance of Inside-Out is it is about active listening. It is about sharing space and letting that space happen both in terms of whose turn it is to share their story and whose turn is to listen and that dance between it and through that, I think through that listening is where empathy develops. So it's some, it's quite special to hear that these are, these are some of the main things you've taken away. And obviously, Julie and I both taught all of you in your first year as well. So it's nice to think back to how you were in your first year and see how you've developed as students, you know, in terms of these different aspects you've developed on. So, we've asked about yourself, kind of key points that you've, you know, reflected on. Based on your experience with Inside-Out. What would you like to see change in the criminal justice system?

Amy: I’d like to see a much bigger focus on education in prisons and I want that to be reflected in the wider society. I've come across a lot of people in my life who still have the mentality of ‘Lock them up, throw away the key, forget about them. They’ve obviously done something wrong, that's why they're in prison’. But that, that's just very flippant and very ignorant because like Maddie said you don't know a person’s circumstances. You don't know, you don't know them and how can you expect people to just change their, their behavior and criminality, if you don't educate and allow for a second chance to happen is cause without that second chance then those incarcerated can't prove that it was a mistake or that they've changed as a person.

Becca: I would probably say authority, for me. I had an encounter with a guard at Downview and that, I wouldn't say it frightened me but it kind of made me feel like I was in the position of one of the Inside students and obviously in the UK, everybody wears clothes and we entered wearing our normal clothes and the inside students also wear whatever they want to which obviously they...

Camille S: No one is wearing a uniform right?

Becca: No. Yes. No one wears a uniform. And so obviously during toilet breaks, we would obviously use the staff toilet and, and one of the guards questioned me and I felt really intimidated, I felt very little, and I also felt judged. And for me that was a moment that, that, that day, the rest of that class and on my way home—I had about two and a half hour journey home—so I had long time to think about it, and I listened to music and I sat and I thought ‘Wow, this, this, this man has really taken advantage of his authority in, in his position. He’s abused his power in my eyes and to try to’, I didn't know the word, I don't know what he was trying to do but I haven't felt that little in, in my life and and I mean that and for me that was a very pivotal point and I went home and I did my research about guards and how guards treat incarcerated people. Normally, not all guards and that some guards treat some of the Inside students and people that are incarcerated over the whole world and, and it was a big complex for me in my head because I thought ‘Ah, we watch all the TV programs and all the guards, they get along like best friends with, with the people that are, that are inside and when, when he realized that I was an outside student, he was so apologetic towards me and he was rubbing my shoulder, ‘I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry, I didn't realize that you wasn't a resident here’ and and for me it was shocking. So I’d really like, and in my career to advocate for people who are inside prisons and to help them have voices, because I think sometimes they're not heard. And I think that they should, they should be heard. And I think experiencing that as if I was an Inside student was horrible. It was more than horrible so yeah.

Maddy: I think leading on from what Becca said what the thing that I would change, like the top thing, would be similar in them being heard, because the Inside students would talk to us about the harms they face and I think that was one of the biggest, biggest learning experiences for us that because they would tell us about how the food would make them sick, how they'd get secondary highs from the spice that other inmates were smoking, and I just thought all you hear is the harm they’ve caused  to the families if they've committed a crime and etc. but you don't really hear about the harm that’s caused to them and I just think that's such a big thing because you could have done what I'd call a minor crime or a major crime, you could be in any position in the criminal justice system. You might be innocent, you might not be, but I think you should not be harmed when you are meant to be there, and people in authority—that Becca said—should be looking out for you. And I think that was really interesting to hear and quite scary because they're literally being sick daily from food they’ve got to eat or they'll go hungry. And I just think that just needs to change. That's awful and to hear that and I sit and leave and it's just like we're going home to eat what we've got and they're sitting there like just being victims of harm within the criminal justice and I just think that needs to change.

Giulia Z: Just for context, ‘spice’ is essentially what in England, we refer to as spike. We talk about spice when we talk about synthetic cannabinoids, so synthetic versions of cannabis essentially that are really rife at the moment in the prison system. And so that's the most popular drug that's being consumed currently in prisons in the UK. And so, yeah, just for a bit of context.

 And yeah, so it's it's really resonating with me that you are all thinking about how injustice plays out in the relationship, you know within within, within the prison and also in the relationship between incarcerated people and correctional officers and like all of a sudden I had this like thought in my mind, I'm like, ‘Oh, wouldn't it be amazing if correctional officers were Inside Out students, you know, as sort of outside students. Wouldn’t it be amazing if jurors, and- and- and judges were Outside students and, you know, how can we bring these you know groups, you know, the people in to, you know, to really have the experience that you had to see things differently. So yeah, thanks for sharing that. That was, that was really inspiring. And, and just, this is a little curiosity of mine. What was your favorite activity? What was your favorite learning activity? You know, a lot of students are like ‘Oh Alligator River.’ You know, maybe something else. But I'm just curious to hear what your, you know, your favorite kind of learning points or activity discussion was.

Camille S: Can I just jump in and say it doesn't have to be a learning activity. It could also be a warm up because we also did some amazing warm ups.

Giulia Z: Oh yeah, yeah sure

Maddy: Oh, I have one. Definitely when we all got stickers, of which drug and we all had to guess and it was quite interesting because I think quite a lot of the Inside students didn't know what some of them were and we were talking and I was trying to explain it to them and I was like ‘Oh, should I know what this is?’ like and it was just really interesting because we were all trying to detail it and it was funny. I think we all just laughed, and that was one of the first lessons, right? I think we all sort of grew, sort of as a class and I thought it was just, it was definitely, it was so funny. I would definitely do that again. But it was, it was a great activity.

Camille S: Maddy. Can you explain what the activity was because not all Inside Out classes do the same thing. So can you explain what happened and why it was so funny?

Maddy: So each of us got a sticker on our back with a different drug. So I think I was LSD, someone was heroin, and different, just all the drugs, magic mushrooms and whatever and we all had to walk around and give each other clues and guess what our drug was. And so there's like 25 of us are walking around like chatting about drugs and like, trying to explain it, and like, then we were all like ‘Oh, how'd you know that?’ and it was just so funny, that, and it was all of us were sort of and just making jokes about it, was just, it was just, it's more of a ‘be there’ moment. But it was good.

Amy: Yeah I’ll definitely say that's, that's one of my highlight moments as well Maddie, cause some of them are very difficult to guess so

Maddy: Yeah.

Amy: One of the inside students that I was talking to, she had morphine on the back, which I thought of, you know, it is a very ‘in the middle’ like it's illegal for you to have but it's legal in a medical, like hospital field and then you have ones that you wouldn't necessarily think of drugs, like the one I had was alcohol. And it really makes you think about drugs, in general, and it was, it was actually very funny. And I really enjoyed the other activity we did in that lesson where half of us were given a drug to legalize, so I was in that group and we had to, we had spice and we had to come up with how he would legalize it and money, would it be in a shop like, all that stuff and everyone else had something they would make illegal, which I think was alcohol, I believe. And, and that I really enjoyed because it was very challenging, particularly if you were given the one about spice. It's just very difficult because we had just read about spice and, what’s the word, and the homes, it can cause, we'd just spoken to the Inside students. So we’d just spoken about basically getting secondary highs in the toilet off of it. So there, that was certainly very challenging but I'm glad it was challenging.

Becca: For me it has to be the introduction. That day was life changing for me. I was so nervous to even enter, I'd never entered a prison before and we got in and I was like ‘This is a classroom, this is crazy’ and, and then everyone came in and I kind of looked at a couple of the Outside students, but it's crazy, because I was expecting criminals to look like criminals and the Inside students look like me, if not better. And it was an unbelievable experience. When we sat down, and we got to know each other and we sat in chairs opposite each other and everyone got to move around and asK a series of questions. And one of the Inside students said to me that, that she likes to see her children and to that I replied ‘And how often do you see your children?’ and she said, ‘I don't know whether, you know, but in the UK, obviously we don't have a lot of female prisons.’ And I said, ‘Yeah. And I'm aware.’ And I didn't really think about it in this way and there's a lot of limitations in, in research in this aspect. And I said, ‘Oh, like so, how often do you get to see your children?’, and she said ‘Once a month, if I'm lucky’ she said, ‘because the visitation days that I get are on weekdays and I can't see my family during the week because they live so far away.’ And for me, again, that was another moment that took me back. And I was like, she gets to see her children once a month if she’s lucky. And so for me, that was, that was a big, big thing for me. Um, so, yeah.

Camille S: Thanks. Those are all great moments. We're coming to the end of the podcast here. So I think if Giulia and I can indulge, I'd like to share our favorite moments as well. So all the ones you mentioned, I thought were brilliant. The wagon wheel at the beginning, It feels like magic for Giulia and I because we've been preparing for months for this and to see, y'all, you know, the nerves to gel. It’s great. But for me, this year, my favorite class was right before lockdown happened actually because, as you know, we missed our last two group workshop classes and our, our closing ceremony, because of the pandemic, so we were able to do all our substantive sessions and the one that stood out for me was when we had a debate about sex work versus prostitution. And why I liked that so much was because every week Inside Outside students work together, you know, on different activities, talk about different things, but for the sex work versus prostitution debate y'all were put into a side that we've said, ‘You're either for or against whether you actually believe it or not’, and you had to make a convincing argument that then you did in a debate style competition. And I think if someone walked into the room, at that point you would just see a bunch of learners, you, there's no way you would be able to distinguish who was Inside and who was Out in such a collaborative cooperative way and I really, I really like that class because I felt it was such a nice coming together of collaboration amongst students. Giulia, what was your favorite moment?

Giulia Z: Yeah. I agree with that because, that you could see that all of you are coming into your own, that you had grown in confidence but also that you had grown as a group, as a collaborative group working together and being able to like, you know, help each other out and feed off each other, you know, suggesting answers to the person who was like in the front speaking, it was just great to see. It was really great to see. I think my favorite moment, I mean, there's loads of moments, it’s very difficult, but I think I always I always liked it, and I always liked the Alligator River story. And the reason for that is that, you know, I think it really brings out differences that exist between people's kind of moral judgment, as well as some of the similarities in fact, because obviously even though some, some of the characters were judged differently by the different groups, some of the characters were judged the same or quite similarly by all groups. But what I like this year compared to years past, is that I think it was Maddy, it was you suggesting that, you know, actually, we need to look at this from a structural perspective and we need to look at gender and we need to look at sexism.

And this was the first time that this came from a student, rather than me, because I'm usually the one who goes ‘Okay, but what about, let's move away from the individuals perspective and think about social structures.’ And this time, you know, this year it was you. And, and I love that. Because I, you know I felt like, you know, for me, the best, the best bits about Inside Out is when facilitators can disappear. When you know, when the teacher is in the classroom, the presence of the teacher is no longer important and it's all about students leading and teaching each other and inspiring each other to kind of dialogue and go forward. So, so, so, that to me is a, is a sign of success that you know as a facilitator and so yeah that was great, really great. Yeah. 

Camille S: Great, so I think on that point about, you know, moving beyond individual thinking about structural issues. I think that's where we should probably wrap it up. So thank you Amy, thank you, Becca, thank you. Maddie. And thank you, Giulia and thank you to the Inside Out center for recording this podcast for us. It’s been a lot of fun.

Dave K: If you would like to enroll in one of our Inside-Out Instructor Training Institutes or make a contribution to the program, please visit our website at

Jun 11, 2020

This episode of the Inside-Out Podcast features Professor Tiffany Simmons, who serves as a Lecturer and Adjunct Professor at both Howard University and American University.  Her areas of study include criminology, criminal justice and law. Ms. Simmons also serves as the Inside-Out Program Coordinator for American University. Currently, she is the Special Assistant/Chief of Staff to the Deputy Director of College and Career Readiness, Professional Development, and Special Projects for the District of Columbia Department of Corrections. In this role, Professor Simmons has administrative oversight of the education, training and professional development of the inmates and staff.  She previously worked as an educational advocate/attorney with a focus on assisting many at-risk youth with their educational needs. Professor Simmons is a graduate of Texas Southern University, Thurgood Marshall School of Law and she earned her B.A. in political science from Johnson C. Smith University.

Professor Tiffany Simmons

The Inside-Out podcast is hosted by Dave Krueger from The Inside-Out Center, the international headquarters of The Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program at Temple University’s College of Liberal Arts. To learn more about our Inside-Out Instructor Training Institutes, click HERE. To support the expansion of Inside-Out activities around the world, please make your contribution HERE

Episode Transcription

David Krueger: In this episode of The Inside-Out Podcast, I speak with Professor Tiffany Simmons, who teaches as a Lecturer and Adjunct Professor at Howard University and American University. Her areas of study include criminology, criminal justice and law. She also serves as Special Assistant to Deputy Director of College & Career Readiness and Professional Development for the District of Columbia Department of Corrections in Washington DC. Professor Simmons completed the Inside-Out Instructor Training Institute in 2016 and has taught classes combining students from American University and the DC Jail. In this interview, Professor Simmons discusses her work to increase access to education for incarcerated people and she also shares her desire to see more historically black colleges and universities involved in prison education, and specifically, Inside-Out education. 

Tiffany Simmons:  It is imperative. And I say this as a person who is a two-time HBCU graduate getting ready to earn my third certification from the Howard University School of Business. And I also speak as a person who had a brother who was incarcerated. The narrative right now being told in the United States is that The majority of the people in prison, in jail and carceral spaces in the U.S. are African-American. And why It's important for the HBCUs to get involved in the conversation in prison education, one to act as role models, to let people know again that they are beyond the circumstances, and two, to create pipelines and gateways to education, because HBCUs are traditionally known for creating opportunities for those who normally or traditionally would not have it. So living up to the legacy that is instilled in us as HBCU students, and HBCU faculty members, I feel that responsibility to go and give back to those people because the people who are inside the facility are members of our community. Even if their address is different, they are still members of our community. And because of that, we have a responsibility to care for them and to educate them.

David Krueger: The interview with Tiffany Simmons will continue after this word from Tyrone Werts. 

Tyrone Werts: The Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program facilitates dialogue and education across social barriers. Inside-Out courses bring campus-based college students and incarcerated students together in jails and prisons for semester-long learning. These courses ignite enthusiasm for learning, help students find their voice, and challenge students to consider what good citizenship requires. Since Temple University professor Lori Pompa taught the first class in 1997, Inside-Out has grown into an international network of more than 1,000 trained instructors from across the US and several countries. Prisons and universities have partnered to create opportunities for more than 40,000 inside and outside students to move beyond the walls that separate them. We are more than a program...we are changing the world. 

(00:06) David Krueger: Tiffany Simmons, welcome to the Inside-Out podcast.

Professor Tiffany Simmons: Thank you so much for having me.

(00:13) DK: So why don't we begin by just having you share a little bit about your background and how you got into the type of work that you're doing now?

TS: Well, initially, I went to law school in Texas at the University of Houston, Texas, After graduating I got a job in higher education, working in our office of admissions and also working with our FEMA students. So I did diversity services in addition to admissions and financial aid. I transitioned from there into working for a big law firm, Hunt & Williams, decided the law firm life wasn’t for me. I moved to D.C. and started work as an education advocate and juvenile justice attorney here in a local area. I did that for a number of years, working with a lot of children in the foster care system and also the criminal justice system and then transitioned into teaching. I initially started teaching at Howard University in 2009, and then American University 2013. And through my work as an educator and coming in and teaching classes inside the facility here, I was able to transition to my current role, which is the Chief of Staff for Amy Lopez, who was the Deputy Director of College and Career Readiness and Professional Development for the D.C. Department of Corrections.

(01:35) DK: Somewhere along this journey, you enrolled in the Inside-Out Instructor Training Institute. Why did you take the training and how did you initially get connected to Inside-Out?

TS: Around 2013. One of the professors here came to start working at Howard. I am listed as a, I’m a part-time faculty member, I’m a lecturer, a professor at Howard. And she mentioned a program when she found out about my background in juvenile justice and child advocacy. She felt like it would be a perfect alignment with my area of research and just my experience, period. So I finally went in the winter in January 2016. I was trained alongside Lori and a bunch of wonderful people in my cohort and there started my journey.

(02:28) DK: You've been able to teach the class a couple of times. Could you tell us about that experience of teaching Inside-Out for the first time?

TS: Yeah. So my first time teaching inside out, I actually had the opportunity to teach it for both Howard and American at the exact same time. One class at American was Critical Issues in Justice and the other class at Howard was Police, Law and Society, which is kind of focused on community relations. Both classes were very interesting in the sense of, we were talking about critical issues of justice and how violence impacts society. The conversation was quite lively with my students from American University. That class, that particular cohort was global, so I had 14 students and out of 14 students, five of them were from around the world. So we had Ireland, Austria, we had Czech Republic, Russia and someone from Central America. So the conversation was deeper than I anticipated because we had students sharing their global perspectives. And of course, the Police and Law Society class was heated at times because police and community relations and the tension in our country, even now, you know, is a hot topic. So it was interesting and it allowed me the opportunity to kind of have two divergent points of view because the populations of my classes were so different, but still very quite engaging. I learned a lot about myself as well. I felt like this balancing the two programs at the same time was interesting, but challenging myself as a teacher. First time teaching in a carceral space, in trying to adapt how I learned and how I learned the pedagogy to really making sure it benefited all of the students I had in the classroom.

(04:25) DK: So the D.C. jail, as I understand, is a bit different from a lot of other correctional facilities. It's not necessarily like a county jail, it's technically a federal facility, right? Could you tell us a little bit about what it was like to teach in that facility and about the inside students that you’ve worked with?

TS: Absolutely. So the D.C. jail, as you stated, is a very unique, I guess, carceral space. We have local detainees who are with us for up to two years, one month. And then we also have persons who are federal. So they're either waiting to be adjudicated, meaning they’re waiting to go to court or they are coming back to us to finish their sentence out. There's also persons who are coming back because they're asking or appealing their sentence, so they're back on a writ trying to figure this out and if it can be reduced or they'll be sent back up to the federal. And in this particular space, we have the central detention facility, which most folks would identify with as just a traditional jail where you have your cell blocks, not much programming space on it. And then we also have our space for the central treatment facility, which is where we house our female, our women inmates, as well as the male inmates who are on a lower security and who are also participating in a specialized program such as rehabilitation and work readiness. 

My initial time teaching in the fall of 2017 was unique because I had my American Inside-Out course at the CTF, literally teaching inside of a cell block. And then in my American, my Howard University class, excuse me, was actually inside the law library, the actual library space that is on the CTF side. The Central Chamber Facility is really great, it has actual classrooms that you would see in any local high school or university and a law library and a library system is actually run by the D.C. Public Library. So one set of students in a way, got a traditional setting, if you will, and the other ones were learning literally where the gentlemen in our class were house and where they lived every day. So teaching in that space, for me, was very interesting, I was like, this is really weird, because, again, you have a literal library where librarians are checking out books and then the housing things. I will say the students who were being taught in the housing space, the unit. Initially there was some trepidation because they knew what to expect. But after a while, they were like, you know, they even started waving and getting to know the other guys on the unit that weren't even involved in our class. And towards the end, there was a strong sense of community, the students actually wanted more time together. And were asking if we could continue the session into the spring semester. But obviously we couldn't do that because, you know, the semester was ending.

(07:31) DK: If I were to ask you if there were any particular students either inside or outside students, that seemed to be particularly memorable to you or individuals that really seemed to be impacted by your classes, who would be the first people that would come to your mind?

TS: I have a student, her name is Annie Rainey. Annie graduated from the university spring 2018... 2019, excuse me. And she first had me in the fall of 2018 for Violence and Justice class and then decided to enroll in the Inside-Out class. My particular Inside-Out class is focused on criminal procedure and sometimes the conflict that is present when you're viewing it through the lens of constitutional due process. Annie walked in there and just soaked it all in and she was very much impacted by the conversations and projects. I had them each identify a critical link or defect in the chain of criminal procedure and where it fell. And she chose juvenile, juveniles, persons who were juveniles who were sentenced and charged as an adult. And the interesting thing is, upon leaving the class, she says, “Professor Simmons, I'm about to take this information and do something with it. I'm going to make a difference.” She is now the re-entry coordinator for the Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Facility. And even to this day, she and I keep in contact that she's actually creating a special internship program for a couple of my students that are from America and Howard. But she's an example of students who come in the door, green, not really knowing about this aspect. And she's interned obviously at places, but taking information, dissecting the experiences of her classmates and really taking it to heart and using it to really try to reform the criminal justice system. That's the one student right now that kind of just definitely sticks out to me in terms of all that. 

One of my inside students, his name is Diante and he was in the class. He was 21 years old. And he was kind of just looking at me like, “I can't do this Mrs. Simmons, I can't do this. You know, I barely, I don't really have a G.E.D.” You know, one of the things I will say? I will say, because of the level at which the information is presented, and the level and the complexity of it, in a way, we do kind of ask for students on the inside to have at least some of their eighth grade education level so that we can kind of, you know, continue the process, the whole thing. The first couple of sessions, he was just like “Whatever”, not engaged. Towards the end, he was telling us what an expert witness was. He was able to utilize the concepts and even apply them to his own case, not seeing like “OK”, he was able to understand it from a different perspective, “So this was the expert witness and this is why they did that.” The reason he sticks out to me is because, while he was in the custody and care of the CBOC, see, he earned a GED and he was able to just… he matured so much, even in the conversation in the classroom. And he is free now. They dropped his case. And he’ll walk around and he'll say, coming to jail, although he, you know, he never would want to do it,  it changed his life for the better. So when you have students exiting your class who never thought they would be capable of handling a college or graduate level course, and now they get out and you're like, “I'm going to school”, “I'm enrolling in college”, “I got my GED”. That's when you know that you made a difference.

(11:18) DK: When you think about these individual stories of students in your class that you work with, in what ways do you think the Inside-Out model or this kind of teaching, or these kinds of experiences… What kind of a social impact do you see them having around the world?

TS: For me as a person, that's law related. I'll speak first from that perspective. Teaching criminology, law, criminal justice related courses, students are able to go beyond the pages of the textbook. They really experience and put themselves in a situation where, OK, yes, this person can share their experiences with you, but it also humanizes. Inside-Out does a great job of humanizing, for people, whether you're teaching law or you're teaching someone music. Just because a person happens to be located in a different position than you and the label, because you might be labeled as a student of an Ivy League university and they might bear the label of an inmate or whatever. In that space we’re both students, in that space we’re equal. So Inside-Out on a global level is transformative education and it is best because not only is it experiential learning, it's people teaching people how to have an appreciation of various perspectives, its teaching intercultural communication skills, its teaching respect. And it's bringing about a strong sense of humanity and my opinion. And it's empowering. Again, for the students who in most cases in our programming across the world, the inside students are not earning college credit, but it's letting them know that, “Hey, you can do college level work. You can do graduate level work. You can do law school level work. You are capable of more than what your circumstances are at this moment.” And for me, that's the biggest impact, it’s not just transformative in the sense of, you know, “Hey, we're bringing this program, it's transforming people's lives literally every day.

(13:34) DK: How important would you say that it is for educators from historically black colleges and universities to get involved in prison education or Inside-Out specifically?

TS: It is imperative. And I say this as a person who is a two-time HBCU graduate getting ready to earn my third certification from the Howard University School of Business. And I also speak as a person who had a brother who was incarcerated. The narrative right now being told in the United States is that the majority of the people in prison, in jail and carceral spaces are African-American. And why it's important for the HBCUs to get involved in the conversation in prison education, one to act as role models, to let people know again that they are beyond the circumstances, and two, to create pipelines and gateways to education, because HBCUs are traditionally known for creating opportunities for those who normally or traditionally would not have it. So living up to the legacy that is instilled in us as HBCU students, and HBCU faculty members, I feel that responsibility to go and give back to those people because the people who are inside the facility are members of our community. Even if their address is different, they are still members of our community. And because of that, we have a responsibility to care for them and to educate them.

(15:11) DK: You’ve had a really interesting and diverse career path and in the last couple of years, you've been working for the D.C. Department of Corrections. Could you share some about what you do there and maybe something about your transition from being an educator to working in a carceral space full time?

TS: So my path here is indeed interesting. As you already know, fall semester 2017,  I was teaching Inside-Out and when we sat down with the program administrators to debrief, to figure out what we could do better, what we would like to see. One of the things I shared with them was my, you know, my background. They know that I'm a diversity person. So being a diversity inclusion strategist, I'm thinking we need to input some type of format, at least in my class, as I said, I was gonna utilize some of the trainings I do to create a more balanced community setting and to take away any apprehension or trepidation the students may have, one of the person sitting in the room was the head of the behavioral health unit. So she contacted me after the meeting and asked “Tiffany, would you mind coming to do a training? We’re starting this unit called Young Men Emerging, its modeled after a unit in Connecticut where it's a therapeutic environment for those 18 to 24. And I remember you also being, you know, a child advocate.” And I was like, “This is right up my alley.” You know, that great spot of recidivism is right there. So I was able to develop a curriculum for training for the staff that were going to be assigned to the unit. It was a two part series. And I did it in January of 2018. At the end of January 2018, I get a call from the director's office, Director Booth, here at D.C.D.O.C. asking me to come in for a meeting. And I am very scared and I'm thinking like, “Oh my goodness, did I do something wrong? Was the training not sufficient? Lo and behold I am in his office and he's like, “I want you to come here. I want you to help me put this place out.” And I said, “What? What do you mean?” You know, again, right up my alley. He said that “I have someone who I say you would be a perfect match with. I'm going to set up a conversation for you, two.” So I'm getting ready. And he wants me to interview ‘the’ Amy Lopez. Amy Lopez was the first superintendent of education for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, appointed under the Barack Obama administration. She transitioned from the federal side to D.C.D.O.C. and was doing wonderful things here in D.C.D.O.C. And after talking to her, she's like, “You know what? I want you to come work for me.” I was like, “Are you serious?”

And she made me her chief of staff and this is the first time in the history of the D.C.D.O.C. where an educator was actually running the education and the training department. So for me, it was a perfect opportunity to marry all of my skills, my lawyering skills, my skills as an educator, my background in criminal justice, all of these things. An opportunity to really make a change from the inside out, literally. So that was January, February, April. I gave my two weeks notice. 2018. Been here ever since. And I can't tell you how powerful it's been to watch our team grow. 

Our training department, our training manager is a former law enforcement person, but she was also my counterpart. She was the chief of staff for the Deputy Director of Operations in Tehran who runs the day to day operations for the jail. She's now our trainee manager and she has a PHD in education. We have a college advisor who actually has a master's degree in college advising and counseling, she's our University Administrator and Liaison. We have a principal. I mean, we have all of these wonderful things. And for me to be a part of it, I get to serve in the training specialists. So I do curriculum related to, of course, my area of expertise, we do law, I've created more classes for our cadets, our introduction correctional officers and we do a lot, we have way more cultural and inclusive trainings now. I do the same thing on the inside as well with our residents. It's just a wonderful time to be in this space. 

To me, the transition was easy and effortless because of the people that I'm working with. I literally come to work every day and I'm excited. I stay late at work every day because I know, even though some of my work is balancing budgets, I make sure that this line goes out correctly or this MOU is drafted correctly and we have a new university partner that is gonna be able to bring your services for our staff and our residents on the inside.

(20:22) DK: What advice would you give to those who are considering or just starting to teach Inside-Out courses? And also, do you have any advice for white educators as they go into carceral spaces that are overwhelmingly populated by persons of color? 

TS: Honestly, I believe that the advice I would give them would probably be the same. In this instance, one, I would suggest first getting a tour of the facility before you start your class so that you get a feel for the space, because, as I explained earlier, for example, in our space, our jail, if you are a person that's on our central treatment side, you will have access to the classrooms, traditional setting, and, you know, we have the smart boards, it's more conducive to what people feel is a traditional learning environment. If you're going to be in a traditional jail or prison where you're teaching or in the housing unit or teaching in a space that they have to make into a learning environment, it'll help you adapt how your syllabus is going to run. It'll help dictate how the activities you do will be. And also how to have good conversation with whomever the administrator in charge of the education of programming is on site to see what resources they have to help support you. And also ask questions like, well, if you want to have this, can I bring that in? For example, if you don't have access to projectors and computers and laptops, would you mind if I bring one in? And if so, what are the requirements for that? So that's that one, understanding the environment in which you will be teaching. 

The second is, don't go in thinking that you are going to save the people that you're teaching on the inside. They are people just like you. They have feelings just like you. So you're thinking that, “Oh my goodness. I'm feeling pity on you because I'm “a free person” and you're incarcerated at this time. My duty is to save you and make you make your world better.” And that's not the case. People find that quite offensive. And especially if you are in a situation where, if you are a person that looks different than the people that you are educating on the inside, or even if you do look the same, because here's where a lot of people make mistakes: There's a natural bias, and I think, judgment, whether we recognize it or not, that comes from this, just because I might be black and the person that I'm teaching is black, I'm thinking we are automatically going to identify with one. And that's not true. Or just because I'm a person that is Caucasian and the person, I mean, I'm teaching that's incarcerated might be a Latinx person, you know, I should come in and let them know that I speak Spanish, and all of this. You have to be mindful of the fact that building the trust and relationship with these students, because they are a vulnerable population requires sensitivity. And you have to find a way to connect. But it isn't always going to be because of race. And it's not always going to be because you think there's a stereotype that's gonna be the bridge between the connection piece. You go in with yourself. You go in being sincere, that's how you are able to connect, because, I think that's the case when you're teaching students on the inside or not. They want sincerity, they connect more with you when you are being genuine and not making assumptions. I think you have to put everything to the side, and especially if you are teaching people that don't look like you. You need to admit that you don't know. And you have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. If that makes sense. And just really kind of embracing the situation for what it is. Because fakeness and again, the superhero syndrome is what I say. And don't assume that the people that you're teaching don't have a knowledge base. A lot of people presume that everybody that's in the prison or jail population, you know, they're uneducated. And I have, you know, I've had people in my classes with master's degrees, PHDs and  M.Ds last semester. So don't assume that their education level is beneath you and you have to talk down to people. That makes it. That would be, I guess, a few tips or advice that I would give to my colleagues who, whether you're teaching Inside-Out class or not, how to make things work in a carceral space.

(25:19) DK: What is something that really makes you frustrated about the work that you do? And on the flip side, what would be something that really gives you a sense of hope?

TS: That there isn't, the thing that frustrates me is that there are not enough people doing the work. And then sometimes when the people that do it, they do it with ulterior motives. You're trying to make a name for yourself on the backs of other people and exploiting folks, that's what gets to me. When I see people coming in I talk to people, again, carceral education is a big, big thing right around the globe, around our country. And then you're focusing on one person because this person has won more notoriety than another person. For every one person that you are trying to exploit, there's like 80 other people that genuinely need your help too. 

And for me, that's the thing, because right now criminal justice reform, prison reform is a hot topic, right? It's a big issue for people. Presidents, Presidential Candidates are talking about it, Senators are talking about it, City councilmen are talking about it. So people are utilizing, some people utilizing and capitalizing on opportunities for self benefit. And I don't like that. That's not, that's not what I think this work is about. You're not going to effect change if all you're trying to do is shine a spotlight on yourself. That's one. 

But the thing that gives me hope are my students. When, you know,  students like Annie Raynie, I had another one who took the class with me and being inside, has changed the direction in terms of what he wants to practice in our law. And then again, the students, who didn't think they were capable of doing something, but they are. Or the student who comes in, I did have a couple of those whose, I mean, that shared with me that their father was incarcerated, but being inside has given them a different perspective. It actually humanizes their dad to them, because now they see their dad as a person and not as an inmate, if that makes sense. So, for me, my students every day, without question, will give me hope. 

(27:00) DK: Any parting words of wisdom? 

Mrs. Tiffany Simmons:Just keep doing what we're all doing. I’m going to keep, you know, keep trying to get more people trained in the pedagogy and encourage our Inside-Out cohort across the globe. Don't just stop it you know, teaching Inside-Out. Like if your  university has MOUs or MOA’s with these jails and prisons, expand the programming. Inside-Out is the catalyst that opens the door, and you all just keep walking through it and keep expanding the programming and educational offerings that we give to those persons. Because at the end of the day, you're making better practitioners, you're making more of future doctors and lawyers.You’re just making better, to me, citizens of the world. 

(28:46) DK: Professor Tiffany Simmons, thank you so much for joining us on the Inside-Out podcast.

TS: Thank you so much for having me. Have a wonderful day.

Podcast production assistance by Matthew Albert, a criminal justice student at Temple University who is working with the Inside-Out Center through an internship sponsored by the Joyce Salzberg Center for Professional Development at Temple University’s College of Liberal Arts.