The Students’ Restorative Justice Initiative (sRJI) is a collaborative group of Penn State students, faculty, staff, and community stakeholders dedicated to restoring and empowering individuals involved with the justice system. We meet our goal by organizing programs, fundraisers, and awareness events that directly impact those who are incarcerated and their relevant stakeholders.

RJI set priorities with collaborating investigators to devise an initiative customized to the needs of the populations we serve. These priorities follow from our identification and assessment of the acute needs facing this vulnerable population as determined in consultation with stakeholders and groups with expertise in reducing recidivism. 

RJI currently partners with State Correctional Facility – Quehanna Boot Camp, State Correctional Institution – Benner Township (SCI – Benner), State Correctional Institution--Rockview (SCI – Rockview) and Centre County Correctional Facility (CCCF) to offer courses in philosophy, creative writing, legal literacy, entrepreneurship and art education. 

SCI - Benner Township Centre County Correctional Facility Quehanna Boot Camp SCI - Rockview
Entrepreneurship Legal Literacy  Creative Writing Art Education
Art Education Art Education 4Rs Transitions Class  
Creative Writing Creative Writing GED Tutoring  
Philosophy Pride & Choices Ethics  


The course explores the quest for a sense of self through reading and writing about some classic texts that focus on the “adventure of the hero.” Students explore personhood, character, moral portrait, personal dignity, moral agency and self-regard through personal narratives and classical contemporary texts--which are replete with narratives the trials and tribulations of male protagonists. Students will analyze the hero’s quest in three stages: departure, initiation, and return. 

Creative writing:

The Creative Writing Course is taught by graduate students at The Pennsylvania State University to incarcerated women at CCCF. With the support of graduate students, the students learn to use writing as a means of self-expression, personal development, and rehabilitation. Through storytelling, they learn to increase awareness of themselves and others, find their voice, and use art as a form of healing and positive transformation.


This course is designed to help participants explore life after incarceration by developing problem solving and creative thinking skills. Students learn how to think “outside of the box” and recognize opportunities, develop business plans, and pitch ideas to stakeholders. Students also learn to use different mediums of communication, set goals, develop negotiation skills, lead with ethics and integrity. Using interactive teaching, participants learn the foundations of entrepreneurship and how to thrive in the face of adversity, great and small. 

Legal Literacy:  

The course is an introduction to concepts and skills that facilitate the use of legal search engines. Participants learn technical skills like how to use terms on LexisNexis, limit search options, and use supplemental tools to maximize search results. The course also includes an overview of foundational legal concepts including the constitutional, statutory, and jurisdictional rules governing what courts can and cannot do and how citizens can navigate this network. Additional topics include the application of legal reasoning and the fundamentals of U.S. government and the judicial system.

Art Education: 

Class examines literature, past and contemporary artists’ styles and work, as well as examine the impact of art on identity, society, the on-looker, and the artist. 

New Life Scripts (Theatre) 

The Elements of New Life Scripts is a personal development program that uses nature and theatre as catalysts for change. Participants uncover disempowering paradigms from the past, and write powerful "new scripts," that reflect self-love, self-expression, competence and confidence. Acting out monologues and dialogues allows the "actors" to try on new roles, make different choices and practice embodying a new perspective to best serve them when they re-enter the community.  The last "Scene of the Future" culminates with the "actor" on a secure trajectory towards a better life.

Pride and Choices 

Counselor Education graduate students support CCCF counselors that lead daily Pride (for incarcerated men) and Choices (for incarcerated women) programs that address reentry needs and the transition back into the community. 

Recovery, Resiliency & Re-entry (Transitions Class): 

The 4 “R” program uses trauma-informed theory and evidence-based practices focused on recovery from substance misuse, resiliency-building through adaptive support systems, and goal setting related to housing, vocation, parenting, and self-care, all necessary for successful, law-abiding re-entry into communities post incarceration.