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Criminal Justice Students Visit State Prison

Students at prisonImagine taking a field trip to a state penitentiary.

Recently, that’s exactly what criminal justice students from the College of Public Service (CPS) experienced.

Professor Terry Pelz, UHD adjunct instructor of criminal justice, organized a student trip on Nov. 9 to the Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville, otherwise known as the “Walls” Unit.

Pelz, a former warden with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ), chaperoned 13 students from his online 4301: Criminal Justice Administration and face-to-face 3312: Prisons in America classes. Accompanying his students, were students from Dr. Judith Harris’ face-to-face 3317: Race & Crime class.

“This high-impact experience gives students the opportunity to relate to what they are studying in the curriculum,” Pelz noted.

The students met Assistant Warden James and Captain Lightsey who conducted the tour. Students toured the historic “prison within a prison” — a reportedly haunted Texas historic landmark, as well as inmate cell blocks, the inmate recreation yard, inmate craft shop, and the execution chamber for the state of Texas.

“The ultimate goal was to visit the death house and the execution chamber,” said Pelz. “Warden James explained execution day security procedures. Students were captivated by the experience of being in a room where 555 inmates have been executed by lethal injection since 1982.”

About the University of Houston-Downtown

The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD)—the second largest university in Houston—has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974.

As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive four-year university led by Dr. Juan Sánchez Muñoz. Annually, UHD educates more than 14,000 students; boasts over 50,000 alumni and offers 44 bachelor’s and eight master’s degree programs within five colleges (Marilyn Davies College of Business; Humanities & Social Sciences; Public Service, Sciences & Technology; and University College). In 2018, UHD grew its First Time in College student population by 11 percent and transfer students by 14 percent.

UHD has the most affordable tuition among four-year universities in Houston. It also is ranked among 15 U.S. universities with lowest net price to students (according to the U.S. Department of Education). The University is noted nationally as both a Hispanic-Serving Institution and a Minority-Serving Institution. For more on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit www.uhd.edu.