Paired Texts > 'I Am Not An Inmate ... I Am A Man. And I Have Potential'
We've identified these texts as great options for text pairings based on similar themes, literary devices, topic, or writing style. Supplement your lesson with one or more of these options and challenge students to compare and contrast the texts. To assign a paired text, click on the text to go to its page and click the "Assign Text" button there.
In "Teaching Shakespeare in a Maximum Security Prison," Professor Laura Bates discusses teaching Shakespeare in a maximum security prison.Pair “Teaching Shakespeare in a Maximum Security Prison” with “‘I Am Not An Inmate ... I Am A Man. And I Have Potential’” and ask students to consider whether education can be a critical part of the rehabilitation process for prisoners. How does education help motivate people to improve themselves and give them the skills to do so? What reasons does the literature professor give for wanting to teach inmates? How does this relate to and support the ideas described by the former inmates?
Stanley Tookie Williams III (1953-2005) was a leader of the Crips, an infamous gang that began in Los Angeles in 1969. He spent much of his life in prison. Today, he is well known for the writing that he did while in jail, which included anti-gang activist literature and children's books. When he was executed in 2005, his death sparked controversy surrounding the death penalty.Pair “Stanley Williams” with “‘I Am Not An Inmate ... I Am A Man. And I Have Potential’” and ask students to think about how Williams’ story advances the idea that people who have become caught up in lives of crime can redeem themselves and truly change themselves for the better. What forces assist people who have struggled with legal issues in their efforts to better themselves and become contributing members of society? What barriers exist for them? Should we as a society forgive people who have committed horrific crimes, provided they eventually repent and improve themselves? Under what conditions or circumstances would such forgiveness be acceptable?
"Do Juvenile Killers Deserve Life Behind Bars?" is a news article that offers insight into the United States' juvenile criminal justice system, which often provides extreme punishments to adolescents.Pair “I Am Not an Inmate… I Am a Man. And I Have Potential” with “Do Juvenile Killers Deserve Life Behind Bars?” and ask students to discuss how prison can shape a person. How would life in prison affect the young offenders? Does it matter that they are not eligible for parole? How do the texts address biases or stereotypes about people who have committed crimes? What details from the texts both illustrate and challenge those biases?