The Class by Chris Hedges
“Criminals, it turns out, are the one social group in America we have permission to hate.”
- Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow
Chris Hedges has been teaching in New Jersey prisons for over ten years. For three of those years he's taught non-credit college level courses. One of the prisons he teaches at is the East Jersey State Prison in Rahway, which is hard to miss with its boarded up windows, dull white paint giving it an institutional look and feel, with each wing enclosed by metal bars. There's no mistaking this place for anything other than a prison.
East Jersey State, formerly known as Rahway, is a maximum security facility for men.
In Hedge's book, it's noted that "The Department of Corrections did not permit college credit courses in Trenton because, as one correction official said, "They will die in there anyway."
|Rayway / Source: Wikipedia|
|With his students / photo courtesy of Chris Hedges|
Rehearsing for the play seemed to resurface trauma for some of the men, but this time, at least through what I gather from Chris’ writing, there appeared to be more of a companionship, togetherness, and supportive environment, a bonding of sorts, for these moments to come up, and be emotionally worked through when they did.
This is felt in the book, Hedges campaigning for those incarcerated, at first using this book as a platform to, using his voice for those who are voiceless and living in cages, and secondly, by offering forth a second lease on life, educating those kept behind the walls and bars of a maximum security prison.
|Chris Hedges by Oliver Morris|