City Club of Eugene: Going to Prison to Learn

Jan 13, 2020

From the City Club of Eugene:

Many universities teach college-level courses to inmates within prison walls, but UO’s Prison Education Project—Inside-Out—is different.   It brings UO students into the Oregon State Prison to learn with the inmates.  The UO program is the largest in the world and includes common readings, lectures, workshops, mentoring, and more.  In the last decade, 800 to 900 inmates have learned alongside 750 UO students.  Some of the inmates completed bachelor’s degrees while in the program. What was the impact of this program on inmates, students, and professors? Three participants will explain.

Shaul Cohen is an Associate Professor of Geography and Director of the UO Prison Education Program and the Carnegie Global Oregon Ethics Program.  He is a member of the Executive Committee of the National Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program, and a member of the National Alliance for Higher Education in Prisons.  He has worked in four prisons in Oregon, and is a member of the Oregon State Legislature’s work group on post-secondary education in prisons.  His research has focused primarily on ethno-territorial disputes and conflict resolution in different parts of the world, and this work has brought him into communities bound up in violence and communal strife

Bianca Pak, a native of Portland, Oregon, is a third-year student in the UO Clark Honors College. She is majoring in Political Science and General Social Sciences, with a focus in Crime, Law, and Society. She took an Inside-Out class entitled “Autobiography as Political Agency” in her first year at the University. The next year, she became an intern with the UO Prison Education Program.  Bianca is also a member of the steering committee of the Carnegie Global Oregon Ethics Program, a Wayne Morse Scholar in the Center for Law and Politics, a dispatcher for Safe Ride (UO’s sexual assault prevention shuttle), and a student leader for a UO freshmen course on the ethics of mass incarceration.

Trevor Walraven is a formerly incarcerated Juvenile Lifer. In 1998, when he was 14, he was waived to adult court for Aggravated Murder. He spent nearly 18-years in 9 different Oregon Youth Authority facilities and adult prisons before gaining release through Oregon’s “Second Look” process, having demonstrated “Outstanding Reformation” and taking full responsibility for his actions as a youth. He now works with the legal community and advocates for Criminal Justice.  He co-founded the Oregon Youth Justice Project under the Oregon Justice Resource Center and is the Director of Public Education and Outreach.  While incarcerated at the Oregon State Penitentiary he was a member of the UO prison education steering committee.

Copyright KLCC, 2019