Behind Prison Walls

Winter 2016

Behind Prison WallsWhen Nikhil Jois was a first- semester freshman at Johns Hopkins, a friend advised him to get outside the “Hopkins bubble” and interact with people he might not otherwise encounter.

So Jois, a junior studying biomedical engineering, became one of the 50 Johns Hopkins undergraduates who volunteer with the Johns Hopkins Jail Tutorial Project, a program that takes them weekly inside the Baltimore City Detention Center and the Jessup Correctional Institution to tutor inmates in GED prep and job skills.

The experience of working with men awaiting trial for drug-related offenses has put a human face on a group that Jois previously encountered only in the news.

‘It has shown me that every one of those ‘ numbers’ is a human being with a story,” he says. He also views last spring’ s civil unrest in Baltimore through a new lens.

‘It reinforced my feeling that doing what I can to help a marginalized segment of society—in this case, prisoners—is a good and worthwhile thing,” Jois says. “ In the case of the Tutorial Project, we are helping them learn, but we’re also learning from them. That kind of interaction between people is very valuable on many levels.”