News Releases
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January 19, 2017

Kaila DeRienzo, Public Information Officer
(917) 485-2990
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Norfolk City Jail and Old Dominion University Launch Humanities Behind Bars

With the goal of reducing recidivism by providing inmates with a set of tools to help them succeed in life, the inaugural Humanities Behind Bars program will officially begin providing educational and lifestyle training programs to the Norfolk City Jail on Friday, January 20 at 2 p.m. in the 3rd floor classroom.

Humanities Behind Bars started as just a wild idea in 2016 for Old Dominion University Professors Dr. Meghan McDowell and Dr. Alison Reed, as they facilitated a weekly book club with a dozen inmates. After months of brainstorming on how to provide more than just reading skills alongside their inmate students and corrections staff, their idea grew by word-of-mouth. The Norfolk Sheriff’s Office is now proud to recognize the program as an official grassroots collective of ODU teachers, students, activists, and local artists committed to imagining a world where they can help reduce recidivism and teach valuable skills along the way.

Based on inmate, some of the courses likely to be offered are: resume building and job placement skills, financial advising and business management, American literature and history, Black history in global context, art, poetry and other forms of creative writing, loans, grants, advising for colleges and universities, and learning how to become a student mentor.

"Research has indicated that incarcerated individuals who receive education through and lifestyle training programs are over 40% less likely to repeat as offenders. NSO has seen firsthand the dramatic impact that participating in such programs can have on inmates’ lives,” Norfolk Sheriff’s Office Programs Specialist Tammy Lindquist said.

“We believe it greatly benefits the public to know that such efforts are going on to reintegrate offenders, who are going to eventually be released anyway, back into society with less likelihood of them reengaging in criminal behavior,” Norfolk Sheriff’s Office Colonel Joe Baron added.

We invite the media to join us for the launch of this program and bear witness to the power of these rehabilitative efforts. Dr. Reed, as well as instructors and inmates who are participating will be available for interviews.

To arrange to join us on Friday, please contact Kaila DeRienzo, P.I.O for the Norfolk Sheriff's Office. She can be reached by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by cell phone at (917) 485-2990.



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