The Impact of EJP’s Language Partners Program

Language Partners (LP) is one of the only English as a Second Language (ESL) programs offered in Illinois state prisons. It’s one of twelve educational  programs offered by the Education Justice Project at Danville Correctional Center.  Ramon Cabrales, a passionate, bilingual EJP student who saw the need for a peer-led ESL program at Danville Correctional…

Higher Education in Prison Task Force Data Findings

Recently, our Higher Education in Prison (HEP) Task Force collected and analyzed Illinois-driven data gathered by the Data Working Group at EJP. This data helped EJP’s HEP task force with two of its objectives including:   To obtain and analyze data on existing Illinois HEP programs. To identify data points that should be collected for more…

Release of 2022 Reentry Guides

During their annual work on Mapping Your Future, the RGI team pays close attention on how to better adapt their guides to make them more accessible for readers. This year was no exception, as Natalia discussed the changes made, “Last year, our guide was at a high school reading level. This can be a challenge…

EJP alumnus spotlight: Michael Harrell

Michael Harrell knows the exact number of days he was incarcerated: 20 years, 5 months, 4 weeks, and 3 days. Six months after his release, Michael is now a Reentry Case Manager at Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation, a nonprofit restorative justice organization. He helps trauma-impacted individuals acquire basic documentation and achieve their goals. Some…

The Illinois Higher Education in Prison Task Force Meets for the Last Time

Illinois is poised to become a national exemplar in the field of higher education in prison (HEP). The Illinois Higher Education in Prison Task Force met for the last time on July 28, 2022 to adopt 31 recommendations. They include steps toward implementing a legislative action plan to expand and support high-quality HEP opportunities throughout…

Support RGI by Pre-ordering Today!

The Reentry Guide Initiative (RGI) is gearing up to distribute hard copies of the 2022 edition of Mapping Your Future: A Guide to Successful Reentry in Illinois.  This guide, which EJP has updated annually since 2015, provides more than 200 pages of information on preparing for reentry while incarcerated and steps to take following release….

Living Proof: Johnny Page and Violence Prevention

In recent weeks, EJP highlighted an article from the Chicago Sun, written by EJP alum Johnny Page-then co-director of programs and partnerships for ConTextos. His op-ed (https://chicago.suntimes.com/2022/5/18/23095977/violence-interrupters-chicago-shootings-seandell-holliday-bean-millenium-park-contextos-op-ed) commented on the need for more proactivity within the violence prevention landscape of Chicago. Johnny also made a call for the removal of barriers for those with lived…

Illinois Higher Education in Prison Task Force: Expert Testimony

Higher education in prison experts Tim Barnett and Sharon Varallo presented at the Illinois Higher Education in Prison Task Force on May 5, 2022. Sharon Vallaro is the Executive Director of the Augustana Prison Education Program (APEP), which allows incarcerated individuals at East Moline Correctional Center the opportunity to earn bachelor’s degrees. Professor Vallaro emphasized…

EJP Scholarships

“EJP’s mission does not end once a person leaves prison,” states Nia Hill, EJP’s scholarship and travel grant coordinator. EJP’s scholarships provide pathways for EJP students and others impacted by incarceration to continue pursuing their educational goals. EJP has been offering academic scholarships since 2011. Scholarship funds can be applied to any post-secondary academic purpose,…

Mexican Scholarship Recipient: Jose Ornelas Vallejo, Aspiring Teacher

When he sets his mind to something, Jose Ornelas Vallejo will get the job done. Driven, motivated, and with a can-do attitude, Jose was an ideal recipient for one of the EJP scholarships offered this spring. Formerly incarcerated individuals residing in Mexico with a strong desire to study at a secondary or post-secondary education are…

Conditions at Danville Correctional Center

After COVID-19 forced a second suspension of our programming at Danville Correctional Center in January 2022, we’re grateful that EJP classes were able to resume in March. However, we’re still trying to recover from the setbacks we encountered during the shut-down.  The suspension has led us to extend our courses into the summer, to make…

Mexican Scholarship recipient: Alejandro Sandria, avid painter

Alejandro Sandria’s nervous excitement is palpable as his wife translates. He is the recipient of an EJP scholarship, awarded this spring to a formerly incarcerated individual residing in Mexico. These need-based scholarships provide support for further study at a secondary or post-secondary institution. Alejandro plans to use these funds to pursue his own personal study…

Mexico Scholarship Recipient: Cesar Fierro

Cesar Fierro, Aspiring Baker Each spring, as a part of our scholarship programs, EJP hosts two scholarship competitions for individuals in Mexico. The scholarships provide support for people with previous connections to incarceration to study at secondary or post-secondary institutions in Mexico. César Fierro, one of the recipients of this year’s scholarships, says he wants…

Impact week with Keiahty Jones: The challenges of reentry

Keiahty Jones, EJP alumni incarcerated for almost 14 years, was able to go home in November. How would he summarize reentry? “It’s like walking on glass through a desert,” he said. Keiahty spoke about his experiences during prison and reentry as part of EJP’s 2022 Impact Week, which featured EJP alumni speaking to EJP supporters…

Impact Week with Joseph “JoJo” Mapp: “Living life as if I’m one day out.”

Last week, in lieu of our annual gala, EJP hosted a virtual Impact Week highlighting EJP alumni and community members. On Tuesday, EJP was joined by EJP alumni Joseph “Joe Joe” Mapp. Joseph is the Communities Partnering 4 Peace  program manager and director of reentry at Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation in Chicago. He recently…

From surviving to thriving: Happy’s story on the importance of education to reentry

After being incarcerated for 22 years, one of David “Happy” Todd’s biggest challenges upon release was adjusting to his family and their way of living. Happy shared his reentry experiences with his family as part of EJP’s 2022 Impact Week, which featured EJP alumni speaking to small groups of EJP supporters via zoom. To them,…

EJP through the lens of prison abolition

As an organization committed not only to mitigating the negative impacts of incarceration but also to supporting  more just and humane responses to harm and violence, many members of EJP strive to enact abolitionist values throughout the work that we do.   Prison abolition is a multifaceted, complex subject that goes far beyond merely closing prisons….

IL Senate Has Until April 8 To Appoint New Nominees To Prisoner Review Board

Over the past two weeks the IL senate has done something unprecedented. It failed to confirm appointees to the Prisoner Review Board, three individuals with solid qualifications, some even unanimously approved by a subcommittee.  As a result, the Prisoner Review Board has only six members and is unable to complete some of its vital tasks…

First Meeting of the Higher Ed in Prison Task Force

The Illinois Higher Education In Prison Task Force held an initial meeting in February to begin working toward its goal of reporting on ways to improve higher education in Illinois prisons. At the meeting, the members set bylaws, guidelines and plans for the task force, and made space to build community within the collective.  The…

Friends of EJP

Friends of the Education Justice Project (FEJP) ​​is a 501(c)3 non-profit that exists solely to raise funds for EJP. Its members fund academic scholarships for formerly incarcerated people and their family members, provide small grants to EJP alumni to help with unanticipated financial needs such as medical expenses, groceries, and bills, and support other needs. …

Deportation

EJP publishes two reentry guides every year: Mapping Your Future: A Guide to Successful Reentry in Illinois and A New Path: A Guide to the Challenges and Opportunities After Deportation. Of the two, A New Path is created for those who face deportation to Mexico or Central America following their sentence.  Lee Ragsdale, the reentry…

HJR27: Higher Ed-Prison Task Force Passes

We are excited to announce that HJR27, which calls for the creation of a Higher Education in Prison Task Force, was adopted by the Illinois General Assembly  in October. Multiple organizations, educators, and incarcerated individuals  were involved in supporting the resolution’s passage, which was co-sponsored by Carol Ammons in the House and Kimberly Lightford in…

Instructors and students overcome barriers to education

EJP provides for-credit courses and other academic programs to incarcerated individuals within Danville Correctional Center. While students at Danville take the same classes and parse through the same course material as UIUC students on campus, the educational experiences of the two can be quite different. Ellen Ritter currently serves as the academic director, after starting…

International Students & EJP

Over the years, the Education Justice Project has grown and attracted many international scholars from around the world. Their diversity in backgrounds and perspectives have become valuable assets to furthering EJP’s missions.  Below, three members of EJP from different countries recount how they learned about the program and what they have noticed through their involvement…

Behind The Scenes With The EJP Reentry Guide Initiative

The Education Justice Project started the Reentry Guide Initiative to try to answer some of the questions that formerly incarcerated individuals might have when reentering the world after finishing their sentence.  Currently, EJP produces two reentry guides; Mapping Your Future: A Guide to Successful Reentry in Illinois and A New Path: A Guide to the…

The Beginnings of EJP

When EJP was first in the makings, the group was treading quietly on campus, forgoing publicity through flyers and other means. Advised by both the University and Danville Correctional Center to keep it low-key in case of pushback from members of the public, and against the backdrop of a general pro–incarceration mood in the country,…

The Reentry Guide Initiative Team Delivers the Largest Order in EJP History

The Reentry Guide Initiative team recently printed 7,000 copies of the 2021 version of Mapping Your Future: A Guide to Successful Reentry — the largest order up to date. Of the total copies, 4,000 were delivered to the Illinois Department of Corrections and they will be distributed to prisons throughout Illinois. “We hope to get…

Return of The Amplifier

The prison population is one of the groups most vulnerable to COVID, and the pandemic hasmade incarcerated individuals more isolated than ever. That is one reason why the return of in-person EJP programming is so important. EJP members are excited to return to DanvilleCorrectional Center and resume teaching after having not been at the prison…

Inside the 2021 Reentry Guides

The Reentry Guide Initiative is one of EJP’s largest endeavors. The hundreds of pages for the two guides – Mapping Your Future and Returning Home – require research, interviews, writing and proofreading for each new edition.  This year, the RGI team had an even greater challenge: creating guides that included relevant information during a pandemic,…

Welcome!

Welcome to EJP’s new website! We’re so excited to launch this new home for EJP’s online presence, and to have you here with us. This has been a long time in the making, and we hope you take a few minutes to explore.  EJP’s previous website launched in 2012. It greatly improved access to information…