The Antioch College Prison Justice Initiative (PJI) was founded as an Independent Group of ComCil (Community Council) in 2014-15 by Dr. Emily Steinmetz and a group of dedicated students and staff. It soon became one of the most successful models at Antioch for combining meaningful action for justice with dedicated teaching and learning. Now in its sixth year, PJI is a collaborative of Antioch College faculty, students, staff and the Coretta Scott King Center for Intellectual and Cultural Freedom (CSKC).
Community engagement is at the heart of PJI and has been the engine of prison justice action, new initiatives, student-faculty research opportunities, oral history projects, and service learning. PJI efforts include classes, community actions, service projects, cooperative education opportunities, cultural collaborations, programs and partnerships across Ohio and nationally.
Through these efforts, PJI works to support, render visible, uplift and transform individuals, families and communities impacted by incarceration. PJI invites understanding and participation in how all of us are implicated in the carceral state and interconnected in the work towards anti-racist liberatory futures. PJI is committed to developing dialogue and understanding about the impacts of the criminal justice system. Through collaboration between students, staff, faculty, and the Yellow Springs community, PJI activities connect our community to meaningful engagement with incarcerated people, issues relating to mass incarceration, the reintegration process of formerly-incarcerated people into society, and human rights violations.
Some of the current and recent projects of the PJI, include:
- The Prison Justice Library books-to-prisoners program.
- ANTH 380 Inside Out course – as part of the national Prison Exchange Program, this course, facilitated by Dr. Jennifer Grubbs, is offered at Dayton Correctional Institution with Antioch College and incarcerated students.
- Additional ANTH courses taught at Dayton Correctional Institution by Dr. Jennifer Grubbs, that engage Antioch students and students that are incarcerated.
- States of Incarceration National Dialogue – Ohio: Life Sentences: Death Penalty on the Installment Plan? How Much Time is Enough Time? Featuring action research of Antioch’s PJI led by Dr. Emily Steinmetz in national exhibition.
- The Symbolic Interruption – a newspaper written by students of the Inside Out class of Antioch College and Dayton Correctional Institute.
To learn more about our efforts or get involved, email the Prison Justice Initiative convener, Dr. Jennifer Grubbs: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sign up for our mailing list at: email@example.com
“Without Inside-Out, I’d be back in prison, or I’d be dead,” Evans said. Sitting across from her, at a picnic table behind WYSO, it was hard to picture this. She’d just been talking about her plans for the future, gesturing enthusiastically all the while. She seemed, more than anything else, to be relentlessly alive. Maybe it was hyperbole. Maybe she knew just what I wanted to hear. For a little while, I allowed myself to entertain this cynical line of thought. But when, at the interview’s end, she said “This program saves lives. It saved mine,” it was with enough conviction to render all follow-up questions moot.
A note on our logo: the chinese written character qiú depicts a person inside a box to indicate the concept of prisoner or incarceration. The Antioch College logo is a combination of the letter “A”, the three primary shapes and the Vitruvian man.