Transcending the prison walls: The outcomes of the inaugural Australian Inside Out Prison Exchange Program

M. Martinovic1*, M Liddell2

1 RMIT University
2 RMIT University

*corresponding author:

The first Australian Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program (IOPEP) was delivered at two Victorian prisons – Dame Phyllis Frost Centre (DPFC) and Marngoneet Correctional Centre (MCC) in 2015. As part of this program at each prison, 15 carefully selected Justice and Legal studies students (referred to as outside students) and 15 incarcerated individuals (referred to as inside students) together undertook a semester long undergraduate subject. The subject matter was ‘comparative criminal justice systems.’ The 16 week long IOPEP had the following objectives:

  • To develop a classroom environment where students listen and respect each other;
  • To encourage students to develop critical thinking and collaborative problem-solving; and
  • To empower students to become social change agents.

A few sources of student feedback were used to assess the outcomes of the IOPEP. These included pre-test and post-test anonymous student surveys and four focus groups. The results have shown significant benefits to both inside and outside students, and that ‘prison walls’ were ‘transcended’ as students felt like they were in a ‘university classroom’.


Dr Marietta Martinovic is a Lecturer in Justice and Legal studies at RMIT University. Her research interests include electronic monitoring and teaching in prisons. She has delivered the first Australian Inside Out Prison Exchange Program, which simultaneously engages university students and prisoners in university education, and has been leading a Think Tank program in a prison, which has been doing advocacy work.

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