Stateville Internship

CREST HILL State Senator Rachel Ventura partnered with DePaul University to create a new legislative internship uniquely catered to incarcerated individuals at the Stateville Correctional Center.

The new program will allow either a Senator or Representative to interview a select few individuals at the Stateville prison to be a legislative intern for a semester. At the end of the program, the legislator will provide them with a grade and they would receive college credits for their participation. Ventura spearheaded this new program and has interviewed three potential candidates.

“As I interviewed the candidates and heard their stories and aspirations, I knew this program would be beneficial for not only the student but also the communities they will return to,” said Ventura (D-Joliet). “Giving a voice to the voiceless ensures we have balanced and fair legislation that has a positive impact for all.”

Stateville has a number of other programs within its facility including education, job training and restorative justice programs - however this program would be the first of its kind.

“As a society we are coming to better understand the difficulties that formerly incarcerated people often experience when reentering society,” said Dr. Susan Burgess, the Internship Coordinator for the Department of Political Science at DePaul University. “The opportunities that Senator Ventura is providing by opening up internship placements in partnership with DePaul University’s Department of Political Science will give men from Stateville much needed experience and the beginnings of a professional network as they prepare to reenter.”

Ventura has helped spearhead this program alongside DePaul University and other Illinois legislators.

"Many of the men incarcerated at Stateville have spent years improving themselves, pursuing higher education, and cultivating expertise in law and public policy," said Representative Will Guzzardi. "Their lived experience with our criminal legal system and their extensive knowledge of policy-making will provide invaluable contributions to our office."

Ventura will pick her candidate of choice in the upcoming week and the new internship will begin thereafter. The student will be researching legislation and providing a unique perspective.

“Stateville Correctional Center is proud to partner with State Senator Ventura and DePaul University on this new offering. The Department and Stateville will continue to provide all available resources to ensure individuals in our custody have educational opportunities at every level. This program will uplift the voices of each participant and enhance their sense of hope, self-worth, and confidence in preparation for community reentry,” said Warden Charles Truitt.

Within this program, they will submit weekly summaries to DePaul and suggested legislation changes to the Senator or Representative. Stateville houses a full law library for their usage as the individual will not have access to constituent records nor the internet.

 *photo by Ben Baez