Since I didn’t get to share my reflections with the class or the surprisingly large amount of people who came for the Stateville Speaks event, I’ll post mine here.

I enrolled in the Stateville Speaks class because I thought the subject material we’d learn would be interesting, the thought of working as a class to publish an edition of Stateville Speaks sounded exciting, and I had taken Laurie Jo before and I knew that she is a very unique teacher and deeply invested in prison system issues, especially Tamms.  Even though I’m a film major and I knew nothing about the prison system or journalism or really anything pertaining to the class, I knew it would be a good experience.  At first, I’ll be honest, I wasn’t so sure it was really a good choice for me to be taking the class.  Everything seemed chaotic and somewhat disorganized, and we had random guest speakers every week and all these letters to organize.. I just wasn’t really sure what we were doing or if any of the things we were doing in class would help with the publication.  Looking back though, everything we did in that class helped in some way towards our publication- whether it be sparking in interest in certain topics through the various readings we were given, or through the diverse speakers that we heard, or learning how to make a professional, kick ass publication through some gurus we heard from.  I can safetly say I learned something every time I stepped into the classroom, even though some days it wasn’t yet clear how it pertained to the publication. Now I understand that in order to create a truly great publication, we had to explore all areas of the prison system, and hear accounts from all different types of people involved in it.  One day I was crying to Jennifer Bishop-Jenkins’ tragic story of her sister’s death, the next I was learning what challenges the IDOC faces and how they go about their business,  another day I’d be learning how Akeem turned his life around by creating the Save Our Sons organization once he got out of prison for charges relating to drug distribution.   It was a fascinating class, and I think every single student got something out of every Wednesday.  I can’t believe Laurie-Jo was able to squeeze all of these great resources into one semester, but she did and I believe it has made all the difference in our publication. 

The event was amazing.  I had no idea the turnout would be so great, or that the speakers lined up to talk would do such a great job, or that the audience would be so genuinely interested in these topics, judging by their sincere questions and responses. It made me proud to have been in the class and to have been working on the publication because I felt like the important messages of needed change in the corrections sphere were actually getting across to a large amount of people.  Everyone involved, great job.  Seriously.  That was really something, and I’m glad to have been part of it.


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