The IUP Department of Criminology houses the only student chapter of the Pennsylvania Prison Society.

The chapter is open to graduate students. The following are among the chapter activities:

Reading for a Change Program

Located at the Indiana County Jail, the program is for incarcerated parents and their children. Doctoral students audio record the parents reading books that they have chosen, which have been donated by community groups such as ARIN and The Kiwanis Club, and then both the book and the recording are mailed to their child. There is often a personalized message at the end of each recording. The program is conducted free of cost to the inmate or their family.The goal is to help build the bonds that are lost when a parent becomes incarcerated.

Expert Panel Presentation

"A Discussion about Justice, Innocence, and the Criminal Justice System." Speakers: Kirk Bloodsworth, Exonoree, Bill Moushey, Innocence Institute Director, Craig Cooley, Attorney, Cyril Wecht, Forensic Pathologist, Attorney and Medical Legal Consultant and John Rago, Post-conviction DNA Project Director.

Understanding Crime and Justice Series

Each semester, members of the IUP Student Chapter of the Pennsylvania Prison Society, organize a video presentation followed by a panel discussion. Recent videos have included:

  • The House I Live In followed by a panel discussion on the War on Drugs in the United States.
  • Dead Man Walking and discussion of Sister Helen PreJean and her work toward abolition of the death penalty,
  • Eastern State: Living Behind the Walls followed by a panel discussion on the history of the American correctional system
  • Guilty Except for Insanity video followed by a panel discussion on mental health and the justice system.
  • Beyond Conviction followed by a panel discussion of victim-offender mediation and restorative justice.

Poster Presentations

Members of the IUP Student Chapter PA Prison Society create and staff occasional poster presentations on current events. For example, in October 2012, the IUP PPS student chapter created a poster presentation focused on drawing attention toward the death penalty as it is administered in Pennsylvania. The poster highlighted legal issues, appellate and exoneration processes, and specific newsworthy cases.


Chapter members hold fundraisers and toy drives for local charities.