CHICAGO – August 25, 2010 – The Illinois Department of Corrections and Richland Community College stood together on August 20th as 62 female inmates graduated and received their diplomas at Decatur Correctional Center. Thirty-one women in black caps and gowns received their GED certificates and thirty-one women in blue caps and gowns walked away with their college certificates in four Adult Education categories from Richland Community College. Those programs included Computer Technology I & II, Food Service, and Improving Family Circumstances.
“As these women complete their incarceration and return to their communities, this programming gives them the incentive to lead better lives for themselves and their families,” said Warden Christine Boyd of Decatur Correctional Center. "Offenders are less likely to return to a life of crime when they have an education and can get a job or continue their education upon release from prison.”
Richland Community College President Dr. Gayle Saunders attended the graduation ceremony along with Vice President of Student Academic Services Dr. Tod Treat, Vice President of Economic Development Dr. Douglas Brauer, and Innovative Workforce Solutions Patricia Murphy. All were on hand to pass out diploma certificates to the inmates who graduated from their college programs.
The keynote speaker IDOC Senior Policy Analyst Cory Foster who gave the women inspiration upon their release from Decatur CC. Foster quoted Dr. Martin Luther King: “Faith is taking the first step…even when you don't see the whole staircase.” Two graduates, Krysten Latta and Miriam Seitz, gave commencement speeches and brought everyone in the room to tears. Latta said if anyone told her one year ago that she would be attending school and getting her diploma she would have laughed at them, but now she is talking about what new goals she can set for herself when she is released from IDOC custody.
IDOC operates 27 prisons throughout Illinois in addition to work camps, boot camps and adult transition centers. The agency is committed to operating a safe and secure prison system as well as enhancing prison-based treatment, prevention programs and the successful reentry of inmates into society which will lead to lowering recidivism rates.