DOCUMENTARY: Voices (And Photos) From Women’s Prison Life-Skills Classes

ulia Tutwiler Prison for Women inmates get down to business in a life-skills class, part of a pilot program offered by J.F. Ingram State Technical College. Ingram State's counseling coordinator Rick Vest and reentry program case manager Amanda Pittman (both at upper right) lead the class. Photos by Dan Carsen.

Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women inmates get down to the tough business of self-assessment in a life-skills class, part of a pilot program offered by J.F. Ingram State Technical College. Ingram State’s counseling coordinator Rick Vest and reentry program case manager Amanda Pittman (both at upper right) lead the class. Photos by Dan Carsen.

WETUMPKA, Ala. – J.F. Ingram Technical College is a unique part of Alabama’s two-year college system because all of its students are incarcerated. Last month, as part of WBHM-Birmingham’s prison-reporting partnership with Al.com, our Dan Carsen drove down to Ingram’s campus at Julia Tutwiler Prison For Women. He was planning to do a short story on Ingram’s program there, but he came out with such compelling material (including this one-on-one interview with an inmate) that he wanted to make a mini-documentary. Here it is:

LISTEN TO THE DOCUMENTARY:

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A note on the photographs: As a precondition of Dan’s visit, he agreed not to use inmates’ last names in the radio piece or publish images that clearly show their faces. We’ve blurred some of the photos.

Rick Vest teaches a thoughtful -- rather than reflexive -- approach to hostility.

Rick Vest teaches a thoughtful — rather than reflexive — way to handle to hostility.

 

Many of these women taking this cosmetology course at what the inmates call "the trade school" (J.F. Ingram's Tutwiler campus, which from the outside is indistinguishable from the rest of the prison, but inside "feels" vastly different) had already been doing people's hair and nails before incarceration but hadn't been licensed.

A cosmetology course at what the inmates call “the trade school,” J.F. Ingram’s Tutwiler campus, which from the outside is indistinguishable from the rest of the prison, but inside feels vastly different. Many of these women had been doing hair and nails on the outside but hadn’t been licensed.

 

A Tutwiler inmate practices her trade.

A Tutwiler inmate practices her trade.

 

J.F. Ingram's Tutwiler welding shop.

J.F. Ingram’s Tutwiler welding shop.

 

A motivational mural in J.F. Ingram's Tutwiler auto shop.

A motivational mural in J.F. Ingram’s Tutwiler auto shop.

The women had just taken a break from doing an alignment job on this Corvette.

The women had just taken a break from doing an alignment job on this Corvette.

 

Tools of a different trade (upholstery).

Tools of a different trade (upholstery).

 

What the inmates have to work with.

What the inmates have to work with.

 

You heard a lot about Number 5 in the documentary. Here you can see the other four.

You heard a lot about Number 5 in the documentary. Here you can see the other four.

 

You heard this essay read aloud by the aspiring professional welder, a formerly aspiring CEO, in the documentary.

You heard this essay read aloud by the aspiring professional welder, formerly an aspiring CEO, in the documentary.

 

A reminder Mandy Pittman keeps in her office in J.F. Ingram's Tutwiler campus.

A reminder Mandy Pittman keeps in her office at J.F. Ingram’s Tutwiler campus.

 

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One Comment

  1. Pingback:Southern Education Desk – INTERVIEW: Inmate In Alabama’s Tutwiler Prison On Promising New Ed Program

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