Essays From Inside: Doug Sanders

I have been fortunate enough to be part of the “Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program” for two classes. I was in the very first class offered in the State of Oregon D.O.C.

Essays From Inside

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James Anderson, Benjamin Hall, David Spencer, and Doug Sanders were students in a Crime, Justice, and Public Policy course taught by Oregon State University sociology professor Michelle Inderbitzin at Oregon State Penitentiary.

I didn’t know exactly what to expect being in a class with college students. Was this going to be an evaluation? A study? Was I going to be put under a microscope? Because it was the first of its kind offered here in prison, all I knew was that I had to be a part of it.

One would think that by living in prison you would automatically know just about everything about prisons and the prison system. I was wrong.

The great thing about this class is not only was I learning, I was also teaching. I was helping to change perceptions and stereotypes of people who are incarcerated. Do I belong in prison to pay for my actions of breaking the law? Of course I do. Am I someone who deserves to be treated anything less than human? Of course not.

I like to think that I altered the perception of someone incarcerated. Hopefully all of us “Inside” students helped the “Outside” students realize that there is still hope that people can learn and better themselves after making terrible mistakes. Hopefully we helped them to also realize that locking someone up and throwing away the key isn’t always the answer either.

The end result of this class is amazing. In the small amount of time all of us students spent together in class we formed bonds and friendships. We were all equals and that is one of the things that make this class so great. We were learning from each other, we were learning about prisons, the justice system, theories of crime, crime prevention, and one of the greatest things we were able to do is work together on a project to give back to our community.

I have done numerous programs in prison. I have attended seminars and anything else that would have a positive influence on my life. I have been incarcerated for nearly 15 years and this class is the most rewarding experience I’ve had while being locked up.