The Inside-Out Prison Exchange Programme is a unique prison education programme that brings together ‘Inside' (prison) students and ‘Outside' (university) students to learn collaboratively through dialogue and community-building exercises within the prison walls. Challenging prejudices and breaking down social barriers, the programme provides students from diverse backgrounds with a transformative learning opportunity. Drawing on the critical pedagogy of Paolo Freire and the teaching practice of bell hooks, Inside-Out instructors engage in ‘teaching to transgress,' enabling students to understand experientially the ways in which every day and commonplace environments are shaped by privilege and inequalities. The programme was founded 20 years ago by Temple University criminologist Lori Pompa in collaboration with incarcerated men at Graterford State Correctional Institution in response to the racial injustice and mass incarceration that characterized the US criminal justice system. Durham University criminologists introduced Inside-Out to the UK in 2014, at three very different prisons: a men's category A (high security) prison, a men's category B (medium security) prison and a women's prison. A decade on the government's introduction of the Widening Participation agenda in higher education (HE), with levels of inequality in and access to HE, particularly within Russell Group Universities, is persistently high, Inside-Out challenges this lack of diversity in HE head on. This article explores how the Inside-Out ethos and pedagogy are powerful means through which inequalities rooted in gender, ethnicity and privilege can be exposed and challenged within the unique prism of the prison setting. Quantitative and qualitative data from three years of programme delivery across the three prisons will be drawn upon. The article will argue that the Inside-Out model can overcome social barriers and prejudices to embrace and celebrate diversity; support students to critically explore their own beliefs and identities; and go on to utilise this educational experience to foster social change on both sides of the prison walls.
King, H., Measham, F., & O’Brien, K. (2019). Building Bridges Across Diversity: Utilising the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Programme to promote an egalitarian higher education community within three UK prisons. International journal of bias, identity and diversities in education, 4(1), 66-81. https://doi.org/10.4018/ijbide.2019010105