April 30th, 2011
Written in another time and in another country, the Russian classics — Tolstoy, Lermontov, and all the rest — are still relevant today. Andrew Kaufman (University of Virginia) and his students are proving that by teaching masterpieces of Russian literature to incarcerated youth. The readings prompt discussions: What makes for a “successful” life? How I can be true to myself? What is my responsibility to others? Given that I will die, how should I live? Also featured: Most incarcerated women are single mothers—and sole financial providers of one or more youngsters. Virginia Mackintosh (University of Mary Washington) says no kids are more at risk. She taught a parenting course for the mothers behind bars and leads some of her college students in a one-week summer camp for the children left behind. And also: Southside Virginia Community College has started a pioneering program that enables inmates to obtain college credits, by creating a campus ‘pod’ within prison walls. It’s called “Campus Within Walls” and is made possible by funding from The Sunshine Lady Foundation. Chad Patton administers the program and says it is the product of an enormous amount of cooperation between the Department of Corrections, the Department of Correctional Education, and the Governor’s office.