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 task force was created in October 2021 by HJR27, a joint resolution co-sponsored by Illinois State Rep. Carol Ammons and Illinois State Sen. Kimberly Lightford. The group will have until July 31, 2022 to assess and report on the conditions of higher education in Illinois prisons and to identify what the state can do to improve access, quality, and support of prison higher education. EJP Director Rebecca Ginsburg is a member of the task force, with support from EJP Policy and Research Director Ashton Hoselton.

At the meeting, the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) was given time to discuss their current assessment and goals for education and expanding postsecondary opportunities in jails and prisons throughout Illinois. According to Ashton, IDOC expressed “a commitment to consistent, predictable, and high-quality programming throughout the state that is directly comparable to what is available in the community.” IDOC also announced a draft postsecondary policy and requested task force feedback prior to implementation. Unfortunately, individuals outside of the task force do not have access to the draft. 

The meeting concluded with a strong emphasis on data sharing. Ashton emphasized task force member comments that encouraged the collection and analysis of qualitative data and the use of measurements beyond recidivism. 

All meetings are subject to the Illinois Open Meetings Act and include time on the agenda for verbal or written public comments. Anyone interested in submitting public comment may (1) provide written comment via email to Crystal Johnson at and/or (2) provide verbal comment at the next meeting.

Freedom to Learn Il Campaign has also created a Rapid Response Group. Members of this group will receive timely updates on the IL Higher Education in Prison Task Force and information about how you can help push forward expanded access to quality higher education in Illinois prisons. Join today.