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La Salle University Criminal Justice Program Offers Students Hands-On Experience By Holding Class In A Prison

(File photo. Credit: Thinkstock)

(File photo. Credit: Thinkstock)

John Ostapkovich John Ostapkovich
John Ostapkovich brings humor and wit, and a wealth of experience...
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By John Ostapkovich

PHILADELPHIA (CBS)–A La Salle University criminal justice program is more than just books and lectures, because the classroom is actually in a prison, and half the class are inmates.

Higher education is supposed to broaden your world view but 21-year-old Sierra Applegate has found hers shaken up a like a snow globe by the course “Incarceration Nation: The Politics of Justice in America.”

She’s one of 13 La Salle students taking it along with 13 convicts whose life stories argue against any thought of rehabilitation in prison.

“You get out and you come back. You get out and you come back because there are so many restrictions. Once they get out and they’re on probation that once they violate one they’re right back where they started and it’s just such a vicious cycle.”

This class experience has led Applegate to question her plan to go to law school right after graduation. Now, she’s leaning more toward prison reform because she sees the need for it from the inside.

“There’s so much more behind the crime that was committed. There’s so much more behind why they did it. There’s so much more behind their lives and they’re not just criminals, like, sitting in that class, I don’t want to say they’re just like us, but they’re human.”