“Poor people must be empowered to take charge of their own futures & become responsible for their own economic advancement. Personal motivation & initiative, combined with social reform, are necessary elements to assist individuals in escaping poverty”.
- Economic Justice For All - NCCB
Studies show that most people who cannot read are impeded from maintaining gainful employment. Reading impairment is a root cause of poverty. Some 70% of the inmates of our State of Illinois correctional facilities have reading impairment. Studies show if the inmates do not start learning to read before they are released into society, they will likely repeat offend and end up back in prison because they are impeded from making a legitimate living.
In a test over the past four years at two state prisons, Poverty Services utilized the “peer-to-peer” concept of encouraging literate inmates to tutor illiterate inmate students to learn to read (which we call “Inmates Helping Inmates”). We are now helping 90% of inmate students advance their reading skills. These are men who dropped out or were kicked out of school, and who gave up in themselves ever learning to read long before society gave up on them as well…and now are learning to read and changing their lives forever! Just as important, the program has also given inmate tutors self-esteem and a realization they can significantly help others.
“Inmates Helping Inmates” is substantially increasing the likelihood of these inmates “breaking their cycle of poverty” and imprisonment. Of course all of this is very important to the inmates’ futures…but reduced recidivism also reduces costs to law enforcement, the court system,
the general public, and should reduce the state costs of prisons over $400 million annually.
The IDOC wants to quickly expand the “Inmates Helping Inmates” program to all Illinois correctional centers, but the State does not have the financial ability to assume all the costs at this point. Worse, the State of Illinois is being forced to make major budget cuts in prison programs due to all the other State financial problems. So less and less inmates have access to reading classes…and inmate recidivism, crime and IDOC incarceration costs will increase.
For these reasons Poverty Services is endeavoring an inter-faith funding initiative to help get the “Inmates Helping Inmates” program into all State DOC correctional facilities by encouraging faith groups to “adopt” a Correctional Center in their area. Cardinal George supports this appeal.
The cost to “adopt” is just $2,000 per year per correctional facility. This money is used to pay the literate inmate 20 cents per hour to tutor the illiterate inmates. Prison “adoption” is a very simple way for people of faith to significantly help hundreds of the imprisoned without ever stepping foot in to a correctional center themselves.
Appeal to Help Local Prison Inmates Change Their Lives Forever (& Save Our State Financially)