The Illinois Coalition for Higher Education in Prison (IL-CHEP) is a coalition of educators, students, activists, universities, and others committed to bringing quality higher education to Illinois prisons and jails and working toward a safer, more just society. Founded in 2016, we operate with the knowledge that higher education programs are among the best ways to offer opportunities and hope to individuals who are incarcerated. Such programs also help all of us imagine alternatives to our current system of mass incarceration.
Priorities and Goals:
1. Support programs and instructors that offer higher education to individuals in Illinois prisons and jails. Ensure that this education is of high quality adn that it is delivered in an efficient, sound, and just manner.
2. Educate the public about the value of higher education within prisons and jails.
3. Advocate for the expansion of higher education in Illinois prisons and support universities and community groups that seek to start prison higher education programs.
4. Assist legislators to create policy around prison higher education and incarceration.
5. Encourage and engage in research on higher education and incarceration. Disseminate information about higher education in prison in Illinois.
6. Work with IDOC and other entities to create consistent rules regarding the administration of higher education in Illinois jails and prisons.
7. Focus on higher education as a significant path toward re-entry for the thousands of individuals released from prison each year. As part of this goal, advocate for IDOC policies that support professional and supportive engagement between programs and students following release.