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University Program Will Allow Criminals to Avoid Jail by Writing Essays

University Program Will Allow Criminals to Avoid Jail by Writing Essays

“English 366: Writing and Social Change”

Remember when teachers would make students write an essay about why they shouldn’t have done something? That’s what this looks like.

The College Fix reports:

University hosts program that allows criminals to avoid jail time with a few essays

Some criminals in the Richmond, Virginia area are eligible for a writing class at Virginia Commonwealth University that seeks to deter crime and put low-level offenders on the right path. They write a few essays and avoid jail time.

But in response to repeated requests from The College Fix on whether the 7-year-old program has been successful in reducing recidivism, neither the university nor the state government offered any evidence to that effect.

“English 366: Writing and Social Change” is being offered this semester to 10 low-level offenders, who avoided jail time in exchange for completion of the course, according to the university.

The English department’s description of the class says it “opens an inquiry into the many reasons people turn to crime and the many challenges they face while incarcerated.”

The initiative, “Writing Your Way Out: A Criminal Justice Diversion Program,” is the result of a collaboration between the university and the Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney. The course is taught by English Professor David Coogan.

Coogan has taught the course at the Richmond City jail since 2011, according to a university press release. Coogan founded “Open Minds,” a program in which “jail residents and VCU students come together to read and write about literature, share the stories of their lives, support one another, and contend with the diversity of experiences tied to race, class, generation, gender, sexual orientation, addiction and the criminal justice system.”


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Alan McIntire | April 19, 2018 at 4:13 pm

Sounds like the introduction to a “Simpsons” episode. Criminals will have to write, “I will mend the error of my ways” 100 times.

Will they be expected to use words with more than four letters, and don’t start with the letter ‘f’?

Well, I recall some college composition courses that were absolute torture, so maybe the punishment fits …