Governor encourages new IDOC cadets to focus on safety, believe in second chances

Delivers Keynote Address at IDOC Graduation Ceremony

Note:  Please check the Facebook page for a picture of one of the cadets, Jade Clark of Buckner -sd

SPRINGFIELD – Gov. Bruce Rauner welcomed new correctional cadets to the state’s ranks today. He was the keynote speaker at a graduation ceremony, which included the first class of cadets for the Murphysboro Life Skills Re-Entry Center.

“We’re excited to have the new cadets joining us as we shift our approach to corrections,” Gov. Rauner said. “We’re focusing on the whole person, not just punishment, as offenders prepare for release back into society. We’re helping them believe they are better than the crimes they’ve committed and that they can be productive citizens when they walk out these doors.”

The Murphysboro Life Skills Re-entry Center is the second of its kind to open under Gov. Rauner’s leadership. The first, which is located in Kewanee, Illinois, opened in February 2017. More than 60 offenders have been released from the Kewanee facility in the past year, none have returned to prison.

The Life Skills Re-Entry Centers focus on teaching skills that will help offenders be successful once they’re released – such as how to manage a bank account, write a resume, communicate effectively with others, and prepare for job interviews. The Murphysboro facility will accept its first group of offenders in April.

A total of 190 cadets graduated from the Illinois Department of Corrections today, wrapping up six-weeks of coursework and on-the-job training.  During their time at the Academy, they learned how to understand and communicate with offenders on the mental health caseload and how to maintain composure in crisis situations.

Rauner has made criminal justice reform a priority.  Under his direction, the IDOC incorporated cutting edge staff training into its curriculum and offers ongoing courses aimed at creating safe working environments at all IDOC facilities.

Just weeks after taking office, Gov. Rauner announced his goal to reduce the prison population by 25% by the year 2025. IDOC Director John Baldwin says they’re already more than halfway to the goal.

“We’ve safely reduced the prison population by about 15% in the past three years,” Baldwin said. “Life is about second chances. We’re creating opportunities that enhance safety in our facilities and set offenders on a path toward success. We’re excited to have all of our new cadets join us on this mission.”

The Illinois Department of Corrections held two graduating ceremonies today, one at its Springfield headquarters and another at the Murphysboro Life Skills Re-entry Center, where Gov. Rauner delivered the keynote address.

More than 2,900 new IDOC cadets have been added to the ranks since Gov. Rauner took office. The new cadets will start at facilities across the state on Monday.

Video of the event can be found here.

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