by Maddie Robertson
From the first museum visit in kindergarten to touring Washington, D.C. as an eighth grader, field trips have always been an enjoyable experience. High school field trips, though more rare and more curriculum based, are still an opportunity no student would want to pass up, even if it meant being surrounded by murderers.
On Oct. 16 and 17, Mr. Tom Baker’s Sociology II classes did exactly that.
Two different groups of students, Marian staff and parent chaperones travelled to the Omaha Correctional Center near Eppley Airfield. The minimum security prison houses close to 800 male inmates.
“I was really excited to go because I’ve always had an interest in criminology,” senior Tara Sanchez said. The sociology classes went to prison following their recent study of crime and violence.
After going through metal detectors, the classes were given brief tours of the prison, including the housing units. The inmates share a cell with at least one other inmate. The largest cells house up to eight prisoners.
Each group also had the chance to witness prisoners interacting outside of their cells.
When not working, prisoners have the option of watching television, exercising outside or taking classes to further their education.
“They have a lot more freedom than I thought. I thought things were going to be a lot more strict and more systematic,” Sanchez said.
Once the tour was over, the classes had the opportunity to talk with prisoners. The group that went on Oct. 16 conversed with a convicted murderer and a man convicted of several counts of armed robbery. The Oct. 17 group met with the same armed robber and a man serving 34 to 117 years for injuring a guard when he attempted to escape from a different prison.
The inmates answered questions about their lives before prison, the prison food and what they plan to do once they get released.
“I don’t think I was scared because they wouldn’t give us a prisoner they wouldn’t trust. I thought when we talked to them I wouldn’t have as much empathy, but I did,” senior Brooke McCarthy said.
Each group enjoyed their experience in the prison. “I thought it was really eye opening. Not everyone says ‘Oh yeah I’ve visited prison’. It was unique. I would go back,” McCarthy said.