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June 15, 2006

Taylorville Correctional Center reaches milestone—Walls built for its 100th Habitat for Humanity house
Partnership allows inmates to build housing components for Habitat for Humanity homes for low-income families

Springfield – Taylorville Correctional Center reached a major milestone today by constructing walls for its 100th house for Habitat for Humanity.  The house will become the new home for a family in McLean County.
The program at Taylorville Correctional Center is a partnership between Building Homes: Rebuilding Lives, a program of Lutheran Social Services of Illinois (LSSI); Habitat for Humanity; the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) and IDOC School District 428.  The program enables inmates in the construction trades class at Taylorville to build housing components for Habitat for Humanity homes for low-income families.  The class is provided through IDOC School District 428, which contracts with Lake Land College at Mattoon.
“Building walls for 100 Habitat for Humanity houses is most noteworthy in the history of the Taylorville Correctional Center,” said IDOC Director Roger E. Walker Jr.  “Since the inception of the center, its mission is to prepare inmates for their eventual release and for positive and successful lives by helping them develop teamwork, self-discipline, self-esteem and self-worth as individuals.  Programs, such as this one, are important factors in positive learning and rehabilitation.”
Walker also noted the importance of reentry management and the agency’s partnership with LSSI in the Building Homes: Rebuilding Lives Program.
“Reentry management is a major goal of Governor Rod R. Blagojevich and the Illinois Department of Corrections,” said Walker.  “The Building Homes: Rebuilding Lives Program serves as an important component in the reentry management of inmates and also brings hope and dignity to communities through the building of Habitat for Humanity homes.  Today inmates are given more opportunities for successful reentry into society than ever before through such rehabilitative programs and our commitment to reentry management.”
“The LSSI Building Homes: Rebuilding Lives Program fosters the philosophy of restorative justice by offering inmates the opportunity to give back to the community,” said Jane Otte, executive director of LSSI Prisoner and Family Ministry.  “In the process, inmates gain valuable trade skills and a sense of self-worth.  They see themselves as partners in a community building effort and as part of an international Christian housing movement.  Building Homes: Rebuilding Lives is a statewide collaboration.  Last year Building Homes: Rebuilding Lives partnered with 14 different prisons across the state.  Also last year at Taylorville Correctional Center, housing components for one of the homes went to Shreveport, La., where a family was displaced by the hurricanes.  This kind of partnership not only increases the production within the prisons, but also expands the giving opportunity for the incarcerated.  They become a part of the great store of people in the U.S. who are responding to the cry for help on the Gulf Coast.  Prisoners can give to people in need far beyond Illinois.  Their world view and their generous response grow at the same time, which helps to move them forward in a positive direction after their release from prison.”
“LSSI and Habitat for Humanity began their partnership at Taylorville Correctional Center in 1999 with six homes being built here the first year,” said Warden Greg Sims.  “Last year, the center built 20 homes for the program and this year the center has already built 10 homes, which ultimately has contributed to its 100th house built for Habitat for Humanity.”
David Sharp has served as the Lake Land College instructor for the construction trades class at Taylorville Correctional Center for the past four years.  Materials from the homes are purchased through LSSI and/or the local Habitat affiliate and delivered to the Taylorville facility by a local lumber company.  All interior and exterior walls are constructed at the facility and erected to ensure the components fit correctly.  The walls are marked, disassembled and loaded on a semi-trailer.  Illinois Correctional Industries Pana Warehouse typically arranges for the transportation.  The walls are then delivered to the appropriate Habitat organization where volunteers from the community reassemble and finish the home.
“The most rewarding part of this program is when families receiving homes that were built here come back and thank the class,” said Sims.  “The inmates feel good about being able to give back to society.  This program provides them with a feeling of accomplishment and purpose.  It truly is a win-win situation.  Through their efforts and teamwork, the inmates are demonstrating a desire to make positive changes in their lives while helping families in need.”
Throughout IDOC, there are many opportunities for offenders to give back to communities.  Details of these programs teach them invaluable lessons while increasing their self-esteem as they help people.
“The Governor and I are committed to enhancing the successful reentry of offenders into society through rehabilitative programs and services,” said Walker.  “Reaching out and helping those in communities that have helped and assisted them in many ways, offers countless rewards to everyone involved.  Such programs not only benefit our communities and help offenders return to society, but also serve as a valuable asset to the taxpayer.”
For more information about IDOC, access its website at www.idoc.state.il.us.



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