National accreditation earned by Kewanee correctional facility

Local News

On Tuesday morning, Illinois Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton visited the Kewanee Life Skills Re-Entry Center to learn why they received national accreditation for their facility. The center was among the first prison facilities to receive this credit and Illinois leaders hope to model other centers after it.

This center prioritizes education and preparing incarcerated individuals for life after they are released. They take courses ranging from art to financial literacy, allowing students to learn practical skills, but also providing access to opportunities to explore their passions.

Nicholas Clayton is currently incarcerated at Kewanee Life Skills Re-Entry Center and is dedicated to building a bright future — which means moving forward and learning from his past.

“People like us that lose our lives at such a young age, we really do believe in redemption.” Clayton said Tuesday.

Volunteers with the center spend time with those incarcerated and build relationships. Volunteers help to give people in prison a chance to interact with members of the community and learn valuable pieces of advice from those who have found success in their careers.

“Being incarcerated, you tend to become numb and desensitized — you believe society is against you and people are mean,” Clayton said. “When you come to places like this where you actually have the engagement, you understand not everybody is the enemy. There is no ‘I versus you’ — we’re neighbors.”

Lt. Gov. Stratton met numerous people throughout the day, learning what their particular interests are and how they hope to invest in their future.

Illinois Lieutenant Gov. Juliana Stratton

“People deserve second chances; they need support so when second chances are given, they have the opportunity to be successful,” she said. “That’s something we’re working on transforming the justice system. The thing I was most impressed with was the sense of real enthusiasm and motivation for learning and wanting to do better.”

Nicholas Clayton works hard in class and has learned to appreciate his natural gifts and talents — tuning into his self-proclaimed “nerd” status.

“I’m a nerd.” Clayton said. “I can actually get out of here and be who it is that I was meant to be.”

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending Stories