Kate Richmond, Jess Denke, Jenna Azar – Lehigh County Inside/Out Prison Exchange
We are a group of Muhlenberg College faculty, staff, and students working alongside individuals who are currently or formerly incarcerated to leverage the power of education as a radical tool to end mass incarceration and build healthy communities. The United States incarcerates more individuals than any other country in the world. In Pennsylvania in 2017, there were 48,438 individuals incarcerated and five-year recidivism rates persisted at over 60 percent.
In our community, the consequences of incarceration are devastating and include serious mental health concerns, death, job/housing insecurity, and substance use/abuse. Developed in partnership with Lehigh County Corrections, we establish opportunities for co-education and for the development of effective community-focused interventions. We aim to innovate learning that results in critical thinking and engaged citizenship, increase community connection, awareness, and resources development, reduce recidivism for individuals who are incarcerated through the investment in education, and actively dismantle inequitable systems by creating bold reimagination of justice.