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Professor Charbonneau’s Corrections II class experienced first-hand the Family Connections Program available to fathers in the New Hampshire State Men’s Prison at Concord.
The Program helps inmates connect to their children on the outside through books. Sara Backer, who works as a Program volunteer facilitator with the New Hampshire Humanities Council, came to Nichols campus on September 12th to demonstrate how a typical session works.
Backer started the session by giving Criminal Justice Management students some of her sobering observations about personal safety in a prison, emphasizing the need to dress appropriately and to be aware of personal space.
In the first exercise, Backer had Nichols students read out loud OWL MOON by Jane Yolen, with guffaws of laughter the result of students trying to simulate the “woo” sound of an owl. At the Men’s Prison, the 32-page picture book from Scholastic is read by each inmate, recorded on cassette and then, both book and cassette are mailed to a son or daughter.
In the second exercise, students read some traditional Burma-Shave advertising campaigns written on the side of barns in rural areas where U.S. highways criss-crossed fields of corn, including “The queen of hearts now loves the knave, the king ran out of Burma-Shave,” and “If harmony is what you crave then get a tuba Burma-Shave.”
The last exercise was a class read-aloud of “Any Prince to Any Princess” by Adrian Henri. All three exercises demonstrated how language arts and books can be used to improve familial communications and listening skills.
As a way to enhance Nichols academic curriculum, the Fischer Institute is increasingly sponsoring speakers who bring students in direct contact with community change agents and show everyday connections to course material.