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Barriers To Education Inside And After Prison

Incarcerated Illinoisans face a lack of educational supplies and restricted access to reading material. That’s despite research that shows educational opportunities in prison can lead to reduced recidivism rates — and, as a result, save taxpayers money. Illinois Newsroom’s Lee Gaines investigated the roadblocks to educational opportunities both for people inside prison and those who’ve been released — in addition to shining a light on what an education can do for someone convicted of a crime in Illinois.

Earlier this year, hundreds of books were removed from the college in prison program’s library inside the educational wing of the Danville prison. Documents obtained by Illinois Newsroom shine a light on why the books were removed, and who was responsible for their removal.

The Illinois Department of Corrections has revised its publication review policy to include a centralized appeal process for incarcerated people who feel they’ve been unfairly denied access to certain reading materials. The policy also includes a new exclusion: photocopied and downloaded material.

State lawmakers hosted the hearing after Illinois Newsroom reported that Danville Correctional Center officials had removed more than 200 books from a college in prison program’s library inside the facility earlier this year. 

Several authors and editors of books that were removed from the EJP library agreed to speak to Illinois Newsroom. They share their perspectives and reactions to having their books removed  from the EJP library at the Danville Correctional Center.

When she found out that staff at the Danville Correctional Center had removed more than 200 books from a library inside the prison’s education wing, Rebecca Ginsburg said she felt a pit in her stomach.

There’s a growing debate over how to measure the success of college in prison programs beyond how many students are released and return to prison.


Illinois could save millions of dollars on incarceration costs if the federal ban on Pell Grants for inmates was lifted, according to a new report from the Vera Institute of Justice.

The Illinois Department of Corrections requested a massive increase in funding for educational supplies as part of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s state budget proposal.

Like many people coming out of prison, Perry Cline never thought he’d get a college degree.

“I thought I was just going to be another bum in the streets,” he said. “So I thank God that he got something else for me. And this is just the beginning.”