Students honored with prison visit

By Laci Sutton / Staff Writer

It’s not very often that college students get to go on field trips, but students from the Hutchinson Community College Honors Sociology class is one exception. 

On Friday, the Honors Sociology class, taught by Kim Newberry, and a few other honors students will be taking a trip to the Hutchinson Correctional Facility. 

HCF is the second-largest facility for adult male inmates in Kansas, and houses four different custody levels – maximum, special-management, medium, and minimum. 

The honors students will be touring the maximum-security-level prison. 

This is a unique opportunity for the students to see what they’re studying in class, come to life throughout the tour.

Newberry has been teaching for 17 years and teaches sociology for HutchCC.

“Really, it’s to get an inside look at our correctional facility,” Newberry said. “It’s fascinating, it’s frightening, and it’s very unique. It’s a world inside of a world.” 

Carrie Lyne, Ellsworth freshman, is also in the sociology class.

“We just finished a chapter on crime and understanding why people commit crimes, so with the new understanding of that, I think I will be more empathetic towards those who are in the prison,” Lyne said.

On their tour, the students will be walking through with the general population of the prison, guided by at least one correctional officer. They will be able to not only see the life happening behind the wall but hear interesting stories from within the prison as well.

“I’m very nervous,” Lyne said. “I have so many ideas on what it might be like inside, so I’m very curious to see how it actually is. I expect the inmates to be yelling and kind of intrigued by us just because we’re from the outside, and some haven’t been out in years.”

HCF has many different programs and opportunities for the inmates to participate in while incarcerated. The number of available opportunities for an inmate depends on factors such as their custody level and behavior.

Some of these opportunities include education programs, reentry programs, wild-horse training, service and obedience dog training, recycling, and The Print Shop.

“It gives them a skill so that when they get out of prison, they can get a job and become active members in society,” Newberry said. 

This is the second year Newberry has taken students to tour HCF.

For many classes, students aren’t able to experience their courses curriculum face-to-face or apply the concepts first hand. This is a unique educational opportunity for everyone involved.

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