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Sunday, June 16
The Indiana Daily Student


Changing the culture of incarceration

TEDx is doing ?something really cool.

But first, if you aren’t familiar with TEDx talks, let’s review.

Essentially, these “talks” are based on the original format of TED talks, but are presented to local ?audiences at independent events across the world. They’re designed to help local communities have a conversation about “ideas worth spreading.”

Now here’s the cool part. TEDx has been organizing talks in correctional ?facilities around the world.

You may be wondering what the objective would be behind hosting TEDx talks in correctional ?facilities.

You may also be wondering why I think this is so utterly amazing.

Well, this is why: The program highlights an overarching issue in the criminal justice system and attempts to independently solve it.

It utilizes power on a ?local level and drives change nationally. The program helps educate inmates, first and ?foremost. Inmates have the potential to build hope, develop compassion and come to terms with what they’ve done.

It’s a different, seemingly more independent take on the “recidivism reduction education programs” that have been introduced by legislators.

While there have been some noteworthy bipartisan duos attempting to take on criminal justice reform — take Sens.

Cory Booker and Rand Paul for example — things in Washington often tend to move at a slow, glacial pace. Similar to the TEDx talks held in correctional ?facilities, a local nonprofit is taking an inherently ?similar inside out approach to addressing the ?same issue.

The Midwest Pages to Prisoners Project is a local nonprofit aimed at educating prisoners by providing free reading materials.

By providing these resources, the project hopes to promote rehabilitation and reintegration rather than punishment. While the organization is based in Bloomington, thus rendering it a smaller non-governmental organization, it still manages to serve inmates across the country.

As explained by the Midwest Pages to Prisoners Project, the nonprofit’s beliefs and values revolve around the notion that “prisoners are not strangers: they are brothers sisters, friends, cousins, mothers and children.”

The nonprofit exists to “alleviate pain, boredom and attrition and to provide a direct opportunity for self-education.” Often, prison libraries are understocked or supported during only specific and limited hours.

It’s of my conviction that independent programs like these will start driving change in our criminal justice system faster than federally funded programs, at least until a fair and ?comprehensive bill is passed.

Programs like these, especially on a local level when you’re able to engage with surrounding ?communities, is such a powerful tool.

They help increase ?understanding behind correctional education programs and spread knowledge about their benefits such as cost reduction and greatly decreasing ?recidivism rates.

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