Criminal Justice students at the University of Maine at Presque Isle devoted their spring semester to a service learning project aiding the women incarcerated at the Aroostook County Jail in Houlton.

Hope & Justice Project
Hope & Justice Project

With help from Hope & Justice Project, students in the class fundraised and collected items for the women to receive upon their release.

Dr. Lisa Leduc’s Women and Crime class is a service learning course, meaning that students are expected to dedicate 20-30 volunteer hours to the chosen project.  “In the past, our class has worked with the incarcerated women’s center in Windham and the Women’s Re-Entry Center which is now in Farnham,” said Leduc, UMPI Associate Professor of Criminal Justice.  “But when I found out that one of my former students was co-facilitating a support group in the Aroostook County Jail in Houlton, I saw an opportunity for our students to have a positive effect locally.”  Leduc was referring to Chelsie Higgins who graduated from UMPI with a Bachelor’s of Arts in Criminal Justice in 2011.

As a part of the course, Higgins visited the eleven students for one of their classes and shared her experiences.  The students then got to work brainstorming ideas of how they could be helpful to the women in the Aroostook County Jail.

The students created a Go Fund Me page, sold Scentsy products, and organized weekly bake sales.  The funds raised went toward the purchasing of gift certificates for exit packets.

Several of the students accompanied Hope & Justice Project advocates to the jail to observe the support group.

A sophomore Criminal Justice and Psychology student with a Pre-Law minor, Valentina Annunziata, said, “To hear their stories and how happy they were that someone cared was truly eye opening.”

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