April 9, 2010
Law students to learn about prisons in Anamosa tour
A group of UI law students are going to prison today, part of a law school outreach program that introduces them to an important part of the American justice system that most have not yet seen.
The students — about 20 of them — will take a two-hour tour of the Anamosa state penitentiary, getting a behind the scenes look at how a prison functions and meeting with a group of inmates for a question and answer session.
While UI law students have toured the Iowa Medical Classification Center (IMCC) before, this is the first time they’ve been to a maximum security facility.
“I’m interested in comparing the two,” said Justin Randall, a second year law student who will be on the tour. “The IMCC was more laid back than I thought, not what I expected a prison to be like. I’d like to compare it to a maximum security facility.”
Linda McGuire, associate dean of community engagement in the law school and director of the Citizen Lawyer Program that’s sponsoring the tour, said the visit will peel back some of the mystery of a prison. Given the prison system’s prominent place in American justice, law students, especially those planning careers in criminal law, should know more about them, she said.
“We read that a convicted defendant has been sentenced to however many years in prison, but they don’t get much more attention after that,” said McGuire. “This tour puts a face and a place on a brief mention of a case they read about in a textbook. The students will learn what it feels like to be in prison, to understand how noisy it is and that the lights are never turned off. I hope they learn what it feels like to be able to leave at the end of the day, to know what it’s like to be free.”
Randall, who will intern this summer with the U.S. Department of Justice’s anti-mob unit in Las Vegas and hopes to pursue a career as a prosecutor, is most interested in the inmate panel.
“I’m looking forward to hearing how they got there and where do they want to go with their lives, whether it’s in prison or after they’ve served their time,” he said. “A lot of them are probably like the people I’ll be helping to try this summer, so it’s good to get a perspective of how the prison works within the system.”
STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Service, 300 Plaza Center One, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.
MEDIA CONTACT: Linda McGuire, Associate Dean for Community Engagement, 319-335-9755; Tom Snee, 319-384-0010 (office), 319-541-8434 (cell), firstname.lastname@example.org