The Catholic University of America

Intercultural Spring Break Ethics of Incarceration Sponsored by the Office of Campus Activities Intercultural Programs


Through Intercultural Alternative Break, a diverse group of CUA students engages with issues affecting underserved communities through service, immersion, and reflection in a substance-free environment. Intercultural Alternative Break fosters lasting commitments to social justice and strives to build long-term relationships with community partners.

Program Description

Ethics of Incarceration provides participants with the opportunity to critically evaluate the US prison system and the role of punitive vs. restorative justice. This trip aims to initiate conversations about justice within our communities and the role that prisons play in creating, upholding, or destroying “justice”. These conversations involve community members whose livelihoods depend on prisons, currently incarcerated men and women, previously incarcerated individuals, prison guards and professionals, as well as policymakers. Participants tour jails in DC to get a firsthand look into our nation’s prison system. Participants in Ethics of Incarceration will be encouraged to challenge current incarceration practices, humanize those involved in the system, and discover for themselves the role they feel incarceration should play in greater society. Ultimately the trip inspires students to learn more about the US system of incarceration and strive to make the changes they wish to see.

Learning Outcomes

By participating in the Ethics of Incarceration Intercultural Alternative Break, students will be able to:
·         Identify key features of the criminal justice and correctional system, specifically as they are implemented in the DC community.
·         Connect their foundational knowledge about the criminal justice system to Catholic Social Teaching on human dignity and development.
·         See themselves as empowered change agents in criminal justice reform.


Mass Incarceration 

Program Timeline

November 20: Applications released online
December  9: Applications due
December 11: Trip participants selected
December 14: Students pick up information packets and books
February TBA: 3-hour pre-trip meeting
February 27 – March 6: Intercultural Alternative Break

March 20: Reunion and reflection 

How to apply

Applications for the 2016 Intercultural Spring Break are available on the Nest, here. They will become active on Friday, November 20th, 2015 at 9am.

They are due by 11:45pm on Wednesday, December 9th, 2015.

How much does it cost?

Student participant cost: $265

Cost includes all program activities and materials, three meals a day for 8 days, a copy of The New Jim Crow, a reflection journal, and a t-shirt. 


Please email with general logistic questions about the program.

If you would like to meet to discuss the program with a staff member, please email Annalisa Dias-Mandoly at