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Behind bars: a guided tour

January 14, 2013

Andrew Stritch’s 42 years with Maryland’s prison system makes him the perfect person to help the 22 students in his “Correctional Facilities” Jan Term class sort out fact from fiction. The adjunct lecturer has seen it all as a probation officer, parole officer and case manager, and his guided tours of correctional facilities have debunked more than a few myths in the minds of his students.

“We see inmates unrehearsed, not like they are depicted on television,” Stritch says. “It helps the students develop accurate concepts of what real institutions are like.”

Stritch makes sure his students, who are mostly Sociology majors, understand that not all inmates are the stereotypical discipline problems. A group of Maryland Correctional Institute for Women inmates – some with master’s degrees – help design state building projects. Others train and care full-time for puppies that will go on to become service dogs. There’s even a Girl Scout troop to link inmates with their daughters.

“My students see real conditions – inmates aren’t beaten but they aren’t free either, and the issues are clearer when the students experience the inmates’ actual lifestyle,” says Stritch.