Receiving an education early has long stood as a safeguard against becoming incarcerated later.
But alas, too many people realize what it’s like to reside in a prison cell before they experience the satisfaction of earning a high school diploma. And for the last five years, receiving such a diploma or its equivalent has been out of reach for inmates of the Kankakee County Jail.
State budget cuts prompted the suspension of a General Education Development program at the jail in 2014, but as Lee Provost reported on the front page of the most recent Weekend Edition of the Daily Journal, a $64,169 grant from the Illinois Community College Board has allowed for its restoration.
Now, people who couldn’t avoid prison the first time around have a chance to steer clear of it in the future through the program. Studies have shown the recidivism rate among inmates falls for those who earn a GED in custody (32 percent) compared to those who don’t (37 percent).
As country Sheriff Mike Downey says, “this can be a win-win for everyone.’’
The inmate can benefit by earning the skills necessary to find a position in the workplace rather than the criminal justice system. Society, as a whole, can benefit as well, as the success of the program can lower crime rates and the financial burden of housing citizens in penal institutions. We enthusiastically applaud its return.