Psychology class organizes Allegheny County Jail donation drive

Created: April 26, 2019  |  Last Updated: December 17, 2019  |  Category:   |  Tagged:

WASHINGTON, PA (April 26, 2019)—Students in Psychology 345: Criminal Psychopathology orchestrated a magazine and book drive for the Allegheny County Jail and delivered the donated items to the jail in early April, getting the chance to meet with the inmates their donations were benefitting.

Through her own service project connections, Assistant Professor of Psychology Cathy Petchel brings students to meet with inmates at the Allegheny County Jail who are part of the New Hope program, which works with those close to release to provide educational opportunities that will help them when they finish serving their sentence in an effort to reduce recidivism.

The opportunity to give back through the book drive brings the class full circle for the students.

“They’re taking the time to help us learn, and sharing their history with us,” said Madison Vaughan ’19. “It feels good that we can give them something like books to give them tools to learn, too, and make their lives better.”

Talking to the inmates gives the students another lens through which to learn, and dispels misconceptions they may have about those in prison.

“It’s an eye-opening experience for a lot of them, and it resonates with them,” Professor Petchel said. “It puts life experience to what we talk about in class.”

The students appreciated the chance to meet with those who were benefitting from the book drive and give context to the theories they discuss in class.

“A lot of times, you take courses and just have the lecture and reading materials, but this gives us an opportunity to tie what we learn in class with reality,” said Caitlin Wass ’19. “This will give us really good insight for our future careers.”

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