By Kaelah Blanchette ‘17
Criminal law classes got to experience life in an orange jumpsuit when they took the trip to Green Haven Correctional Facility on December 7, 2015.
Mr. Stuart Rothstein hoped to show the students the lives of the inmates and to show that anyone can end up in jail.
“The majority of the students do learn something, and the idea is that the trip should be the one and only time they go to jail,” said Mr. Rothstein. “It’s done to make sure that they’re not in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Students learn about the inmates’ lives and why some of them were put in jail in the first place. Amar Sutrovic ’17 enjoyed the inmates’ stories and experiences.
“I liked that the prisoners were very open about their experiences and were not ashamed to hide it,” he said. “They care about keeping the kids on the right track and warning them about messing up.”
Faisal Masoud ’17 recounts his experience of the inmates when they first met them, and what the inmates acted like.
“It was very cold and dull. The inmates seemed very depressed,” he said. “The only thing that was scary were the inmates themselves. They screamed at us in the beginning.”
Kelly Wong ’17 took this as a learning experience to strengthen her morals after hearing the inmates’ stories.
“I learned from the prisoners that I should try to never walk into a prison again. Seeing and hearing the stories of the prisoners strengthened my morals,” she said. “Their purpose was to scare us to make sure we’ll never end up like them, and it worked.”
Sutrovic, Masoud and Wong took the experience in different ways, but they all came to one conclusion, which is to never end up in prison.
They all mentioned the experience as an eye opening opportunity to never get themselves in trouble or into a bad situation. The inmates told them stories of why they were in there, with some even being murderers, or how when they first arrived at the prison, their names were taken from them and they were now referred to as a number, according to Sutrovic, Masoud, and Wong.
It was the details like this that was an eye opener to students according to Mr. Rothstein.
Mr. Rothstein has held the trip now for 20 years, and always goes back to Green Haven.
“They have the best program around,” he said. “It’s not like the TV show ‘Beyond Scared Straight’. There’s no yelling or screaming. The inmates just speak with the students, and they see that it’s not what’s seen on TV.”