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The Impact of The LEAP Program from an Inmate's Perspective

The Impact of The LEAP Program from an Inmate's Perspective
Together, inmates and students created this tree to reflect on their LEAP program experience.

The Scranton Journal spoke with Amanda W., an inmate at the Lackawanna County Prison, about the LEAP program. Here is what she had to say.

Were you glad to have taken part in this program? Absolutely.

What was your first impression of the program? I definitely thought it was different from the programs we have here. We aren’t offered much. The best way to describe it, as cliché as it is, There’s not a lot of ways to express your creativity here, and Scranton made a good outlet for that.

What kind of things did you write? The first time around, we did blackout poetry, which was cool, and we collectively went around the table and we had to create a piece together. That turned out really cool. The second time around we had to create a story with a character. I’m actually still working on a story with that character.

Did you feel a sense of release/expression through writing? To be completely honest, there’s not really much we do here. We sit around all day so as a way to get some of your feelings out, without having to say why we’re in here or what’s going on in here, it really helps.

Tell me how this changed your outlook. It helped me to think more positively. I mean, there’s not much to hope for in here or to look forward to, and it reminded me, despite where I’m at, I still have that creative side of me that I can let out.

It convinced me to go back to school for writing when I get out.

Tell me about your connection to the other inmates who took part in the program and the volunteers.

It definitely was interesting to see how it brought inmates together. You saw people who don’t normally talk to each other laughing and working together. It brought a mutual understanding, inmate to inmate.

And the volunteers didn’t look down on us like a lot of people do.

For those hours, we weren’t criminals. … We were normal people.

Did you prefer writing fiction or nonfiction?

Fiction. Fiction is kind of like an escape. I could let my mind wander and come up with an entirely different realm.

Read the article about the LEAP program and its founders here.
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