My Prison Education

By Christopher A. Vaughn

I was kicked out of high school my sophomore year due to attendance issues. Shortly after that I was arrested for several crimes that resulted in a 34-year prison sentence in the Illinois Department of Corrections. Coming to jail at seventeen and facing the many serious offenses I was faced with led me to a new thought process. One in which I was searching for a positive end to the tragic situation I had gotten myself into. My only solution was to gain the best education available to me in order to prepare myself for my return home. Since the Macon County Jail only offered G.E.D. classes for inmates who weren’t facing class X felonies, I wasn’t able to participate. My quest for education was put on hold.  Image courtesy

After being sentenced, I was shipped out of the Macon County Jail and into the I.D.O.C. More specifically, Graham Correctional Center. I quickly signed up for G.E.D. classes and within two months I had successfully obtained my G.E.D.

In Illinois, first time offenders are placed on the top priority list when it comes to schooling, rather than ones who return to prison multiple times. Because I met the top priority qualifications, I was placed into a vocational course just weeks after receiving my G.E.D. My first choice was Small Business Management. After completing the 8-month course I enrolled in the Environmental Studies Course (commonly referred to as Custodial Maintenance).

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Education Encouragement

By Jon Antonucci  Jon Antonucci / Image courtesy

After being incarcerated for over four years now, I have arrived at the undeniable conclusion that obtaining an education while in prison is nothing short of difficult. Despite the perception of the public that inmates are being rehabilitated while in the system, the reality of the situation is that opportunities for rehabilitation – specifically in regards to higher learning are often quite difficult to come by. Those who do wish to improve themselves may find themselves fighting an uphill battle to gain any sort of accredited education. 

Granted there are plenty of “career colleges” who will gladly receive compensation for their unaccredited  courses. And while their programs may be reasonably affordable, and boast the successes of a “certification” or even a degree, most of the diplomas and certificates that one will earn are not worth the  paper they are  printed on.  Sadly, many so-called “Bible Colleges” are a part of this scam. Those who are looking to increase their knowledge should beware those educators who will delightedly accept one’s money, but who cannot verify their accreditation. (Also be careful to double check accreditors. as several accreditation groups have recently surfaced to “accredit” schools who will pay them enough money, but who are not able to be accredited through legitimate means.)

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