A dozen Georgia Southern students made their last trip into Smith State Prison Friday. They've made weekly visits for "class" all semester. They and their professors came to the prison to meet with 16 inmates serving life in prison.
The Inside/Out Project paired criminal justice majors and inmates to discuss the prison and criminal justice system.
"We learn things from our textbooks, but to come into this environment and talk to people who have been through the criminal justice system and get their viewpoint is really interesting," noted Josh Yancey, a GSU senior.
Inmates said they gained insights as well.
"It opened my eyes to the criminal justice system as a whole, a whole country. I never realized the United States had more people locked up than any other country in the world," stated Jason McGhee, who is currently seven years into a life sentence.
"When you get a chance to sit beside people and talk to people and learn about people, you see things. Changed minds change minds," added Bennett Lawler.
"I figured they would all say they didn't do it. I didn't get that from them at all," stated Kristen Bantin. "Different ones opened up to share their story when they didn't have to. They all talked about being regretful and what they've learned here. That's something you don't hear about in textbooks."
The Inside/Out Project is the first of its kind in Georgia's prison system.
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