Changing Lives Through Literature Program at GCC Graduates Five and Changes Lives

December 1, 2023

The lives of five individuals in the Greenfield court system have been positively impacted following their graduation this week from Changing Lives Through Literature, an alternative sentencing program offered through the Massachusetts courts and Greenfield Community College.

The program graduated the five individuals on Wednesday, Nov. 29. The individuals participated in a 10-week program where they read literature and discussed the characters and themes within the works.

The course participants included five people currently on probation in the Franklin Superior, Greenfield District and Orange District Courts, along with Orange District Court First Justice Laurie MacLeod, Superior Court Justice Jeremy Bucci, Chief Probation Officer Sheila Moriarty and Probation Officers Alison Lonczak and Ashley Luippold. The class was taught by GCC Sociology Prof. Brian Kapitulik.

"The beauty of this program is in its simplicity. We sit down as a group of equals, discuss a few short stories, and connect as a community of learners. The point is to find common ground and recognize what binds us together. We're humbled to be able to provide this opportunity," Kapitulik said.

Individuals who complete the program are eligible for reduced sentences through the state, which could be life-changing for many. Research has also shown that the Changing Lives Through Literature Program may reduce recidivism in certain populations.

"The commitment of the probationers made all the difference. They showed up each week and eagerly shared their observations about the stories, made meaningful connections to their own lives, and engaged in deep discussions about life's big questions. They are remarkable," Kapitulik said.

The program was started by UMass Dartmouth English Prof. Robert Waxler, Judge Robert Kane and New Bedford District Court probation officer Wayne St. Pierre in 1991 in New Bedford, Mass., and has expanded to 12 states, as well as in Manchester, England.