©2019 by The Educational Justice Institute.

Inmates And MIT Students Team Up To Turn A Blank Wall Into A Lasting Experience

About a dozen women inmates — and just as many MIT students — have gathered in the activity room at South Bay House of Correction every day for the past few weeks.

“Before all this chaos it was very boring and dull,” says Allison Deshowitz, who has been in South Bay for six months. “And now we’re bringing some light to it.”

Together, the inmates and college students are learning how to turn a small image that Deshowitz and her peers designed into a massive two-story mural. It's a course to teach the group about scenic painting — and a little bit about collaboration along the way.

What they’re painting is hard to describe. There are walls, an eye, some jellyfish, and a puddle of water pooling under a tree.

Deshowitz adds that in the picture there's a door with sunlight and a sunset behind it. “I think it just explains how everybody in this room is feeling. Sometimes we feel hopeless and as we look at the picture we feel hope,” she says.

Hope is something that Deshowitz says she needs more of. Every day, she reminds herself not to give up. A drug addiction got her mixed up with the wrong kind of people and she found herself in jail about eight years ago — at the age of 19, the same age as some of the MIT students milling around.

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