Incarcerated Students Begin Courses at Sheridan Correctional

Incarcerated Students Begin Coursework at Sheridan Correctional Center

Published: January 20, 2023.

Lewis University began its Spring semester of classes last week at several locations, including the Sheridan Correctional Center in Illinois. Seventeen of the 1,249 adult males incarcerated in the medium-security facility started on a new journey as they are the initial cohort of Lewis University Prison Education Program students receiving Second Chance Pell grants.  

The Illinois Department of Corrections and Lewis University are partnering to give these students the chance to earn a bachelor’s degree in Professional Studies. The flexible degree program has been tailored to help students develop their professional skills. Faculty travel from the Romeoville campus to instruct students with the same coursework as students on the outside.  

“A college degree is the most beneficial factor in social mobilization,” commented Dr. Michelle Clifton-Soderstrom, Lewis University Director of Prison Education Program. “Educational programs in prisons contribute to the quality of life in prison not only for students enrolled but for others inside the prison. Importantly, college graduates interrupt cycles of poverty and other social determinants that negatively impact so many incarcerated persons and their loved ones.” 

Lewis University was among 73 institutions approved in April 2022 by the U.S. Department of Education to participate in the  Second Chance Pell Grant Experiment. That increased the total number to 200 institutions participating nationally. The Second Chance Pell Program allows incarcerated individuals to receive Federal Pell Grants to financially support their pursuit of a college degree. 

“We’re proud to be in this program that will help incarcerated individuals obtain a high-quality, postsecondary education, which upon their release from prison, can lead to meaningful job opportunities, reduce the recidivism rate and make our communities safer,” Dr. David Livingston, president of Lewis University, commented. “This program aligns with our Lasallian Mission of offering access to education and advocacy for social justice.” 

This new prison education program at the Sheridan Correctional Center is the latest in many interventions and other services provided at one of the largest substance abuse treatment programs in the nation. The Sheridan Correctional Center program applies clinical best practices and uses a modified therapeutic community model with cognitive self-change. 

“IDOC is proud to expand its growing list of college partners with the Lewis University Prison Education Program at Sheridan Correctional Center. The launch of this new program will not only provide high-quality education to another cohort of students – but marks a second ‘Second Chance Pell Experimental Site’ in Illinois as we prepare for full Pell restoration later this year,” said Rob Jeffreys, Director of IDOC. 

Lewis University is an innovative Catholic university offering market-relevant undergraduate and graduate programs to 6,500 students. Sponsored by the De La Salle Christian Brothers, Lewis University is nationally recognized for preparing intellectually engaged, ethically grounded, and globally-connected graduates who impact the world for the better. Visit for further information.

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