Prisoners Teaching Prisoners

It’s a Friday afternoon and the inmates of FCI-Petersburg — a federal prison in Petersburg, Virginia – are abuzz. Some are playing handball or basketball on the rec-yard. Others are watching ESPN and banging loudly upon tables and trashcans as highlights are shown. And still others are stealing food out of the kitchen or engaging in any other number of ‘hustles.’ This is typical of a federal prison.

What’s not typical is a group of what appear to be students, hunkered down in room 105 of the Education Department. They sit quietly at their desks, pens in hand, taking notes. Their instructor is not a staff member or a guard, as one would expect, but a fellow prisoner by the name of Bill Batton. And these inmates are not students, but inmate instructors in FCI-Petersburg’s Adult Continuing Education Program.

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