East Moline inmates studying in the Augustana College program | State and Region

EAST MOLINE — Inmates at East Moline Correctional Center have begun a Bachelor of Arts program through Augustana College.

State officials say 10 students began their studies at the end of the summer. They take classes taught by professors who lecture on the same subjects at the Rock Island campus in Augustana.

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This is the first BA program offered to East Moline inmates in over 20 years.

The initial program offers a major in communication studies with other majors to be added. The liberal arts curriculum includes history, literature, math, foreign languages, religion, science, and the arts.

Illinois Department of Corrections Director Rob Jeffreys said a college degree is essential for people in custody who want to turn their lives around and support their families financially.

Rodrigo Carrillo, director of strategic initiatives and planning for the Illinois Housing Development Authority, said the state will finish reviewing applications for housing assistance before the eviction moratorium expires Oct. 3.

“While there is a negative national narrative that states aren’t getting their money, we’re very proud that Illinois is doing the opposite,” Carrillo said. “We donate the funds to those in need.”

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Augustana modeled its program on the Bard Prison Initiative. It was featured in the 2019 PBS documentary “College Behind Bars.”

Students in Augustana’s Correctional Education Program pay no tuition or course fees. The program is funded by the Austin E. Knowlton Foundation.

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