WHS students visit MCI Norfolk to talk to inmates

Michael Curley, News Editor

On February 13 and 14, AP Psychology students from WHS went to MCI Norfolk, a medium security prison, where they got to meet with members of project youth, a group that describes to high school students the prison experience.

For more than a decade, AP Psychology students have been given the rare opportunity to visit MCI Norfolk, but it wasn’t initially for the psychology class.

“It was originally a field trip that was associated with the senior social science elective class, which was an integration of psychology and sociology,” AP Psychology teacher Kim Young said. “But as our electives and the history department changed and we started offering Race Class Gender, Contemporary World issues, and AP Psych, it’s become kind of a field trip that all of the electives participate in.”

When they got to the prison, the AP Psychology students were able to meet prisoners of MCI Norfolk and heard their stories about how they got into jail. 

“A lot of them were gang related, which was a bit hard to relate too, coming from such a privileged area in Weston,” senior Ashely Durall said. “There was one guy who was convicted of manslaughter because of drunk driving, and I thought that that was really interesting, just because that could happen to anyone, anywhere.”

Young believes in the value of having students visit jail and learn more about the situation.

“I think that it’s a tremendous opportunity to speak with and understand our prison system from a primary source. I think through the media and through television shows, we get so many different messages about the paths that lead people into prison, what prison experience is like,” Young said. “I think that, to be an informed citizen in a democracy, you have to understand what it means to take away someone’s rights.”

Senior Ben Tager explained how he was able to take away valuable insight from the American prison system. 

“It was really a once in a lifetime opportunity to just get a new perspective and learn about people who I usually don’t get in contact with,” Tager said.