Quincy University’s Brian Royer, M.S. LMHC, assistant professor of criminal justice, had to think outside the box to provide his students with real-world experience for his Crime & Corrections class, which focuses on prison systems.
As a requirement for the class, students write a paper based on information they have gathered from staff who work within the prison system. In previous years, Royer would take students on field trips to prisons to see first-hand how the corrections system operates and talk to employees who work there. However, due to the pandemic, he had to come up with a different way to give students a similar experience so they could complete the assignment.
“I contacted the public information officer at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility, which is one of the newest and largest, maximum-security prisons in Indiana, and asked her if QU students could contact staff members by phone or email to conduct interviews for a required paper,” said Royer. “ Even though we are a university in Illinois and despite the pandemic and the strain it has put on prison systems, she agreed.”
Students were given a list of staff from various departments and some sample questions they could ask.
QU junior, Jackson Connell, is a criminal justice major with aspirations to one day work for the State. For his paper, he chose to interview a case manager from the prison because it is a job in which he was unfamiliar. Through the assignment, he learned first-hand not only what a case manager does but how the role fits into the bigger picture of corrections.
“Before taking the corrections class, I did not know a whole lot about the corrections side of things. I learned that the goal of corrections is rehabilitation, using different programs,” said Connell. “This was a helpful assignment, and I got a lot out of it. It puts in perspective that what we are learning in the classroom is relevant in the real world.”
Marcell Ellis, a junior from Chicago, is a computer science major who needed a 300 level class as an elective requirement, and the Crime and Corrections class fit into his schedule. Even though the course is not within his major, Ellis found it interesting, and taking the class has broadened his thinking about the prison system. He chose to interview the community service director for his assignment.
“It was fun for me to hear about their experiences and how they navigate their jobs,” said Ellis. “Corrections is something we see on TV, but we don’t talk to someone who works in corrections. Coming into this class, I knew a little bit about crime and corrections, just from my background living in inner-city Chicago, but learning about how life in prison reflects life on the outside, was interesting to me.”
“While I hope things go back to normal soon, Professor Royer went out of his way to give us as much experience as he could,” said Connell. “I appreciate that he kept classes in person and made sure we had all the resources we needed.”
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