Your recent cover story ("Heart of Darkness," Feature, May 7) was about the Jessup Correctional Institution (JCI) Scholars, and a unique volunteer program initiated by Loyola University philosophy professor Drew Leder. As one of the JCI Scholars, I would like to say kudos to City Paper, and Baynard Woods, for the fine article. I would also like to point out two other related items.
First, under the Newt Gingrich "Contract with America," funding for Pell Grants which enabled prisoner access to worthwhile college programs and enlightenment, came to a crashing halt in 1994 or 1995. Prior to termination of the Pell Grant program for prisoners, there were many college programs to assist prisoners in rehabilitation and treatment, and prepare them for return to society upon release. Absent these college programs, there is a thirst among many prisoners for anything which can keep our minds occupied on constructive learning, and the JCI Scholars program is especially instructive in this regard. It fills a big void in our life-the removal of full-time college-degree programs.
Second, words can't express the gratitude to these many volunteer professors, as Dr. Leder, and the Maryland Institute College of Art professor Mikita Brottman, and students from their various college classes who make the weekly trek to JCI, undergo the arduous security detail examinations for entry, and endure long trips from their respective college campuses to JCI and back again, all while having their own classes and homework assignments.
In short, these volunteer professors and students, and the JCI librarian Grace Schroeder, give of their hearts to make the volunteer JCI Scholars program available to us, even absent funds for its support. We are entirely dependent on their kindness for this program, and by Division of Correction rules, we are unable to express our gratitude with gifts. Accordingly, let these few words in City Paper be Exhibit A in expressing our deep appreciation and great thanks to all these kind souls who honor us by maintaining the JCI Scholars program.