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Prison policy allows more educational opportunities for inmates

Illinois Department of Corrections. (WICS file photo){p}{/p}
Illinois Department of Corrections. (WICS file photo)

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The Illinois Department of Corrections has introduced an educational program for inmates.

The program is called the Comprehensive College Education in Prison Policy. Its goal is to educate inmates and reduce their chances of getting re-arrested for crimes.

According to Nancy Negrete, a policy analyst at Business and Professional People for the Public Interest, a public interest nonprofit, there is a great need for educational programs in Illinois prisons.

"On average individuals who participate in educational programs are 48 percent less likely to recidivate," Negrete said.

She said educating inmates could have strong benefits for taxpayers, employers, and Illinois families. She said for every $1 spent on higher education and prison programs, taxpayers save between $4 and $5 on costs related to recidivism.

"We’ve had a system that has made it extremely difficult for people who are incarcerated to be able to pay for their higher education and to be able to access higher education programs," Ahmadou Dramé, of the Illinois Justice Project, said.

Ahmadou Dramé with the Illinois Justice Project said he thinks Illinois residents should care about this policy because it will help inmates access a better quality education, leading to more educated citizens and more taxpayers.

"A single person returning to prison, on average, costs us as taxpayers $150,000. And so when we think of the going cost of, you know, that’s to say that college tuition, at this point, might be $50,000, $40,000," Dramé said.

We reached out to the IDOC. They declined to participate in an interview.

Negrete says as of the 2021-2022 academic year, there were only about 11 higher education and prison programs serving six prisons in Illinois.

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BPI said the need for more educational programs in Illinois prisons is significant. They said at the end of 2020, 2021 academic year, only about 2.2 % of the state’s prison population participated.

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