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Information for Prisoners in Illinois

The Campaign, developed over the past year (and continuing to evolve), has as its core purpose to reduce the stigma that the public, the media, employers, legislators and many others impose on persons released from prison and those serving their sentences with dignity. As a result of this stigma, persons released from prison face overwhelming obstacles to successful and meaningful reentry. Persons in prison are deprived of the opportunity to learn new skills to use on release. And legislators are afraid to do anything positive for prisoners and former prisoners, fearful of being labeled soft on crime. The Campaign, using a variety of approaches, is designed to indentify what might change or modify the attitudes that create this terrible stigma.

One of the most effective techniques used in the Campaign to reach and educate people are public readings of plays written by men in prison and former female prisoners, performed by people who served time at the prisons where the stories are set. People attending these performances participate in meaningful discussion with the readers, seeing, as others have (at the 26 performances to date) that persons who have served long sentences for serious crimes can and do change and that they represent no greater risk to society than those in the general population.

Audiences hear the testimony of formerly incarcerated people as they face obstacles and battle to overcome them, and are asked to join in the struggle.