On March 6, Dr. Sarah Kuehn, assistant professor in the Department of Criminology & Criminal Justice at Slippery Rock University (SRU), and 11 of her students taking the Criminology Inside-Out Prison class participated in a tour of SCI Mercer. Corrections Superintendent Assistant Andrea Shiock led the tour with the assistance of Lt. Jon Jarzenske, who both fielded many questions from the group.
The Inside-Out class is structured to bring together "inside" students (incarcerated individuals) with "outside" students (SRU students) to study and collaborate on academic projects. According to the course syllabus, the class is designed to provide students with a broad social psychological understanding of both the effects of crime on community structures and the challenges the criminal justice system faces in responding to crime in our contemporary society.
As part of the class and in an effort to learn more about the institution and the services available to the inmate population, the students toured the facility to see firsthand the prison environment under which the "inside" students live. As students in the Inside-Out course have an interest in working in the criminal justice system, having the opportunity to see the facility, along with the services and programs available to the incarcerated students in the program, is invaluable to their educational experience.
Despite the frigid winter weather, the group had the opportunity to tour the Veterans Service Unit, the Therapeutic Community, in addition to the reception unit, the education department and the library. Staff who work in these areas gave the students an overview of their work and answered numerous questions posed by the students.
Schools/colleges interested in touring SCI Mercer as part of their curriculum may contact Ms. Shiock to make arrangements.
The SRU students in SCI Mercer's atrium and Lt. Jon Jarzenske (back row on left), who assisted with the tour and Dr. Kuehn (back row, 2nd from right).
The SRU "outside" students and the inmate "inside" students during their first Inside-Out class together held at the facility on March 6th.