In 2019, Illinois enacted Civics in Prison, offering peer-taught civics courses during the final year of an individual’s sentence. Written by individuals incarcerated in Stateville C.C., the law fosters civic knowledge and engagement across Illinois’ prisons.

Since its implementation in 2020, over 270 incarcerated people have been trained as peer educators, with over 5,000 course participants. A peer educator incarcerated in Graham Correctional Center explains, “People often come away from the experience with the idea that politics IS about them. And they find a deeper connection to the actual issues. In order for anyone to be a part of anything, they MUST see themselves within the process. To be a part of something, we have to feel we belong.“

The Reintegration and Civic Empowerment Act relocates these courses to the initial year of incarceration and reinstates the right to vote for individuals in custody within 14 days of conviction.

I have never been afforded the opportunity to vote on the very people that control not only my everyday life, but my future life.

Rob G, Incarcerated in Illinois

When people in prison cannot vote, influence policy, or hold elected officials accountable, things like inhumane prison conditions, problematic judges, and “tough-on-crime” policies persist more easily.

A recent report detailing out the $2.4 billion in repairs needed to make IL prisons inhabitable, highlights the urgency of including people in prison in our democracy. Without a means to hold elected officials accountable, people in prison are relegated to inhumane conditions and silenced in our democracy.

Tweet in Support of the RACE Act!

⚖️ Support the Reintegration and Civic Empowerment Act for safer communities! Moving civics education to the first year of incarceration and restoring voting rights to people in prison fosters positive engagement. Let’s empower everyone to contribute to our democracy. #UnlockCivics #RACEAct

Democracy isn’t selective. Every voice counts, and that includes those behind bars. Granting people in prison the right to vote not only upholds the principles of equality and inclusion, but also fosters their reintegration into society. Let’s empower and restore the fundamental democratic rights of all citizens. #UnlockCivics #RACEAct

Strengthen democracy, support the Reintegration and Civic Empowerment Act! Moving civics education to the first year of incarceration and restoring voting rights to people in prison fosters a sense of responsibility and community ties. Let’s make our society safer for all. 🗳️🤝 #UnlockCivics #RACEAct