•December 6, 2017•
By Jim Nowlan
NP Guest Columnist
Years ago I co-taught a college-credit course at the state prison in Galesburg. I can still hear the metal doors slamming behind me as I was processed in each time. Staff and inmates all looked grim, all the time. Gangs ran the place. It was scary.
Downtown at the Amtrak station, passengers would cast furtive glances each morning at the several young men in the same grey sweats and tennies, carrying pitiful small bags with their belongings.
We knew who they were, and they knew we knew. Passengers kept their distance. Welcome back to society, boys.
This past week, I visited the Kewanee Life Skills Re-Entry Center, also in central Illinois, opened this past February in a former juvenile justice facility. Warden Anthony Williams tells me it is the only facility in the country focused on intensive efforts to transition inmates, all at medium to high risk of reoffending, back into society with real skills for doing so.
They are going to come out one way or another, Williams says. “Our mission is to cut down the number who come back to prison.” In Illinois, 45 percent do so within three years.
Login or Subscribe to read the rest of this story.