Suffredin- For a Better Cook County  
 

Accountability
Forest Preserves
Public Safety
Cook County Budget
Forest Pres. Budget
Property Tax Appeal
Health & Hospitals
Land Bank Authority
Policy Resolutions
Unsung Heroine

 

   
 
   
   
 
   
     
  Office phone numbers:  
   
 
 

The Cook County Code of Ordinances are the current laws of Cook County.

   
 

Search current and proposed Cook County Legislation in Larry's exclusive legislative library.

   
  Last year more people used the County's forest preserves than visited Yellowstone National Park.
   
     
     
     



Cook County Jail Inmate Study for 2nd Chance

Sunday, January 03, 2016
Chicago Tribune
by Robert McCoppin

 

 

Cook County Jail inmates study for 2nd chance

  • Chicago Tribune
  • By Robert McCoppin rmccoppin@tribpub.com Twitter @RobertMcCoppin

On a recent gloomy, windy morning, 10 inmates gathered in a windowless, cinder-block basement room in the Cook County Jail.

As the teacher demonstrated how to solve algebraic equations involving multiple steps, inmates in tan jumpsuits sat quietly and attentively, speaking up only to offer answers.

“A negative times a negative is always?” the teacher asks. “A positive,” comes the group response.

The inmates were participating in the Safer Foundation’s PACE Institute, a program offered at the jail that provides a high school degree. Students typically start by developing reading and writing skills, while also studying math, science, history and social studies.

Their ultimate goals are to get out of jail, get a job, and in some cases support their families, said Durant Freeman, director of the program. Many just want to function in the world and have the things “average” people have, he said.

When some come in angry, often because they don’t have the money to post bond, teachers try to emphasize this is a way to make use of their time.

The PACE Institute receives financial support from Chicago Tribune Charities, a McCormick Foundation fund. There is a waiting list to enter.

For inmate Akeem Alexander, 29, of Chicago, the classes make up for opportunities lost when he dropped out of Lincoln Park High School. He hopes to eventually go to college and get a real estate license.

“I think it’s a great program,” he said. “I like that the teachers are patient. It’s complicated, but she’s hands on, teaching us to take our time, showing us different ways, different angles.”

Alexander, who was held on no bond for domestic battery last year, has been taking classes since June. He said he did well on preparatory placement tests, with plans to take the high school equivalency exam in a month.

The Safer Foundation, one of the nation’s largest not-for-profit providers of services for people with criminal records, also runs two residential centers in Chicago. It focuses on jobs as the best way to help clients start over and lead productive lives. The percentage of repeat offenders in Safer Foundation programs is about half the statewide average. Only 17 percent of those who find employment return to prison, according to a study by Loyola University Chicago.

The Safer Foundation teaches not only book skills, but life skills like conflict resolution and managing personal finances. Freeman started as a teacher and prided himself on raising each student’s aptitude more than two grade levels, and getting them to pass the high school exam.

A former correctional officer, he joined the program after seeing people in his neighborhood coming through the jail.

Beyond traditional school lessons, part of the challenge is teaching computer literacy to adults who might never have used computers or seen a drop-down menu. With only about 25 laptops for some 250 inmates in the program, some use paper demonstration sheets to learn keyboarding techniques.

Ebony Mason is one of 10 teachers in the program. She has a master’s degree in education and started teaching at the jail this fall after teaching third grade at Chicago Public Schools.

The inmates are more eager to learn than the kids were, which keeps the classroom calm, Mason said. “The guys here, they really, really want it,” she said.

When inmates question the relevance of abstract inventions like negative numbers, she tells them they may encounter such concepts in the real world, for example, when they balance a bank account.

One of the most rewarding parts of teaching the inmates is when they recognize how much they’ve grown, Mason said. Some come in unable to fill out a simple application but leave knowing how to apply for a job or for college. Others learn how to read their own court documents.

“When students recognize their growth, that’s a big accomplishment,” she said. “They feel empowered.”



Recent Headlines

Home sales plummet in June in 12th straight down month
Tuesday, July 23, 2019
Crain's Chicago Business

What Is The Best Time To Appeal A Cook County Property Tax Assessment?
Monday, July 22, 2019
CBS Chicago

Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas on unclaimed property tax exemptions: ” Most seniors didn’t know that they could get it.”
Friday, July 19, 2019
WGN Chicago

Top Forest Preserve cop quits after burying ticket of county pol’s pal who asked ‘Do you know who I am?’
Friday, July 19, 2019
Chicago Tribune

EDITORIAL: ‘Do you know who I am?’ Not yet, but we sure know your type
Friday, July 19, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County Commissioner Luis Arroyo says he got a friend’s parking ticket voided
Friday, July 19, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

The story behind those commercial assessment hikes everyone's mad about
Friday, July 19, 2019
Crain's Chicago Business

Chicago-Area Cooling Centers Offer Residents Chance to Beat the Heat
Thursday, July 18, 2019
NBC 5 Chicago

Editorial: ‘Do you know who I am?’ Not yet, but the people of Cook County deserve to find out.
Thursday, July 18, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Top Forest Preserve cop quits after burying ticket of county pol’s pal who asked ‘Do you know who I am?
Wednesday, July 17, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Chicago’s top cop ‘must stop misleading the public’ about violence, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle says in heated letter to Mayor Lori Lightfoot
Wednesday, July 17, 2019
Chicago Tribune

‘Do you know who I am?’ Investigators say Cook County commissioner pressed cops to scrap ally’s $250 parking ticket
Tuesday, July 16, 2019
Chicago Tribune

IG: Cook County needs revamp on sexual harassment outside of work following allegations against Preckwinkle ex-chief of staff
Tuesday, July 16, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Higher Assessments Hit North Suburban Commercial Property Owners
Thursday, July 11, 2019
Evanston Patch

How did an inmate get a loaded gun into Cook County Jail?
Thursday, July 11, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Check exemptions, file an appeal: What you can do to fight your Cook County property tax bill
Thursday, July 11, 2019
WGN Chicago

’A lack of mental health services has plagued Chicago for decades’: Holy Cross Hospital expanding to fill that void on the Southwest Side
Wednesday, July 10, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Construction Begins on New Cook County Health Center
Wednesday, July 10, 2019
Daily Herald

How To Appeal Your Cook County Property Tax Assessment
Wednesday, July 10, 2019
CBS Chicago

County Commission Hopes to Increase 2020 Census Participation
Wednesday, July 10, 2019
WTTW News

all news items

Paid for by Larry Suffredin and not at taxpayer expense. A Haymarket Production.
^ TOP