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Lycoming College students in Dr. Kerry M. Richmond’s
Correctional Policy course partnered with the Lycoming County Pre-Release
Center to hold a book discussion group on Thursday, April 4, with the female
discussion was about the book, “Grace Goes to Prison: An Inspiring Story of
Hope and Humanity,” by Melanie G. Snyder, who also attended the event.
book is about a 37-year-old homemaker and former Avon lady named Marie
Hamilton, who started visiting a group of prison inmates with one simple idea:
to look for and affirm the good in them. In the 30 years that followed, she
expanded that vision, creating unique programs to educate, empower and support
inmates to be successful when paroled. Her volunteer work has challenged
conventional wisdom about how to deal with criminals. She’s had no formal
education in criminal justice, yet her programs have become an integral part of
Pennsylvania’s prison system. She became a tireless advocate for restorative
justice and alternatives to incarceration.
is the executive director of the Lancaster County Re-entry Management
Organization, an initiative in Pennsylvania to improve community safety by
helping people transitioning out of prison to become productive citizens and
remain crime-free. She is a National Institute of Corrections-certified
Offender Workforce Development Specialist who teaches college writing courses,
teaches conflict resolution skills to community, school and faith groups, and
speaks regularly to a variety of audiences about restorative justice, criminal
justice and related topics.
After “Grace Goes to Prison” was published, Snyder traveled throughout the
United States, doing speaking engagements and meeting with other re-entry and
restorative justice professionals to discuss criminal justice issues and
exchange information and ideas.
was a guest speaker in Richmond’s class the next day, where she discussed the
issue of re-entry with the students and how they need to learn to work with
those who commit crimes and complete their incarceration. She spoke to the
class about positive community involvement within the re-entry and pre-release
process. During the class, students discussed the book and how it related to
current prison policies.
Richmond said that beginning last semester, the College’s department of criminal justice-criminology
has been partnering with the Pre-Release Center to hold a book discussion group
with the female residents. Last semester, the discussion was on “The
Help” by Kathryn Stockett.
“The book discussion groups are a way for our department to organize
programming for the residents in the Pre-Release Center,” Richmond said. “In
addition, it is a great opportunity for both students and residents to engage
with and learn from each other. It has been an amazing experience for all
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