Education Justice Project director to discuss prison reform at White House

by Sharita Forrest  /   Apr 28, 2016

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Program in EPOL a recent recipient of campus’s Excellence in Public Engagement Award

Rebecca Ginsburg, director of the Education Justice Project (EJP), is among a small group of college and university leaders who have been invited to the White House to participate in a roundtable discussion on prison reform.

EJP is a college-in prison program in the Department of Education Policy, Organization & Leadership (EPOL) that provides academic courses to individuals incarcerated at Danville Correctional Center. EJP also provides support and services to family members of Illinois prisoners and to people who have returned to Champaign and Chicago upon release from prison.

“I look forward to telling folks about the multiple successes of the U of I program at Danville and other efforts statewide, and to encouraging the administration to continue supporting such initiatives,” said Ginsburg, who holds faculty appointments in landscape architecture and in EPOL.

“It hasn’t escaped me that President Obama is likely to be especially interested in developments in his home state. I’m glad that I’ll have good news to share about the commitment to prison higher education in Illinois and the potential for our accomplishing even more together,” Ginsburg said.

Ginsburg and her large team of volunteers at EJP were recently honored by the campus with an Excellence in Public Engagement Award. EJP has an enrollment of 210 students and has 63 alumni. Its recidivism rate is 5 percent, a much lower figure than the statewide average.

In other EJP news, former EJP faculty member Robert Scott, Ph.D. ’11 EPOL, was named a Champion of Change by the White House for his work as executive director of the Cornell Prison Education Program (CPEP) at Cornell University. CPEP provides a college-level liberal arts education to qualified incarcerated students in upstate New York prisons and is a response to the challenge of mass incarceration in the United States.

Under Scott's tenure, the program has expanded to three prisons and is serving approximately 200 incarcerated individuals this year. Scott's leadership has led to an increase in collaboration in the field, which has contributed to the formation of a statewide consortium in New York and a national consortium for higher education in prison.  

Read the full Illinois News Bureau article about Ginsburg’s invitation from the White House.