As the year comes to an end, it is interesting to think about what types of things we want to do in the coming year. New Year’s resolutions generally involve self-improvement and a commitment to do something better or different in the year to come. This column often highlights commitments that can be done by a busy lawyer who has an unpredictable schedule, but in the spirit of setting priorities for the new year I want to talk about an opportunity that requires a commitment– volunteering in Maryland’s prisons.
Maryland is lucky enough to have wonderful programs that help educate people in prison. The University of Baltimore and other colleges help students in prison receive a college degree and college courses for credit. Johns Hopkins University students have the JHU Jail Tutorial project through their Center for Social Concern, where college students help prisoners obtain a GED. The students go into the prison and help with the test and curriculum. These programs have been highlighted across the country for their ability to help people who are incarcerated increase their marketability once released with degrees and college courses and to enrich their lives while they are in their respective institutions.
Unlike other programs I highlight, these programs often require commitment. The students rely on you to be there and help them with the subjects at hand. Of course, you are a busy lawyer, but maybe you have the schedule to offer one day a week for a few months next year to help individuals in prison obtain a college degree. These programs also need financial support and publicity, so if you are at a law firm or organization that cares about these issues that is another way you can get involved.
Maybe as you are reflecting on what can make your life experience richer in 2019, you can think about taking the time to volunteer in prison. It is a wonderful opportunity to educate yourself while helping with the education of someone else.