Prisoners could get a chance to earn diplomas under bill headed to Senate floor

OPPJ asking for millage continuation to fund Ouachita Correctional Center
OPPJ asking for millage continuation to fund Ouachita Correctional Center(KNOE)
Published: Mar. 22, 2022 at 10:31 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WGEM) - A bill, moving through the Senate, would allow prisoners to finish their high school diplomas via remote learning while they serve time.

As of right now, the bill language establishes a pilot program that would be available only at Consuella B York Alternative High School, located in the Little Village area of Chicago. Students, who previously attended the school within six months, have the opportunity to finish their degrees if they were within two years of completion.

Additionally, the program will extend to at least one year after they are no longer within the custody of the Department of Corrections.

However, there is a promise of an amendment that would subject the program to appropriation from the state, meaning it needs to get funding and find a place in the budget.

Downstate Sen. Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) said she hopes the program can be expanded to the entire state, especially if it is funded via state money.

“One high school that is allowed to do this,” Bryant said. “So they’re from that high school, they go to prison, they’re allowed to complete their high school education at that particular high school. Why shouldn’t everybody be allowed to do that?”

The bill passed unanimously from the House, and passed the committee without opposition.

ASCFME Council 31 is in opposition to the measure until a bargaining amendment is included.

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