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During the Fall 2023 semester, 15 law (Outside) students from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and 13 incarcerated (Inside) students from the State Correctional Institution – Greene, in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, took a full semester class together called Issues in Criminal Justice and Law. The class, occurring each week at the prison, utilized the Inside-Out Prison Exchange pedagogy, and was facilitated by Professor David Harris. Subjects include the purposes of prison, addressing crime, the criminal legal system and race, and issues surrounding victims and survivors of crime. The course culminated in a Group Project; under the heading “improving the criminal legal system,” students selected the topics of improving prisons, improving prosecution, and improving criminal defense. The frame of “improving” these aspects of the system marked a deliberate choice; while many members of the class argued that the system as a whole or particular parts of it were beyond redemption, the task was to find ways to address the most egregious shortcomings as the systems currently exist.

This paper represents the ideas and approaches that all of the members of the class proposed, explored, and hammered out across weeks of work together. Were all of the suggestions here to be implemented, the class concedes that the system would not be even close to perfected. But the class believes these suggestions would result in considerable improvement, a more humane system, and a greater degree of fairness.