EWA Radio

When Prisoners Go to College
In Illinois, education programs for the incarcerated show strong results despite being underfunded
(EWA Radio: Episode 200)

If you’re an inmate in Illinois, what educational programs are available to help you get your life back on track? That’s the question public radio reporter Lee Gaines set out to answer in an ongoing series. As part of an EWA Reporting Fellowship, Gaines looks at how severe budget cuts in Illinois, plus changes to eligibility for federal Pell Grant dollars, have reduced the number of prisoners earning postsecondary credentials and degrees. She also probed other issues: Where are incarcerated individuals still finding academic success that translates into opportunities once they’re released? What does the research show about the long-term benefits of prison education programs, both to the individual and society? How did Gaines work around prison officials who severely limited her access to prisons and prisoners? And what advice does she have for local reporters looking at similar issues in their own communities? (Gaines’ work was recognized with a First Place prize for audio storytelling in this year’s National Awards for Education Reporting.)

This episode of EWA Radio originally aired March 5, 2019.

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