The Freedom to Learn Campaign IL (FTL) formed in March 2019 in response to Danville Correctional Center’s staff removing over 200 titles from the Education Justice Project’s (EJP) library at the prison. Many of the books that were removed focused on race and identity—such as and W.E.B. DuBois’s The Souls of Black Folk and the autobiography of Frederick Douglass. The book removal was a part of the Department of Correction’s growing practice of restricting access to reading materials in prison.
The actions of prison officials at Danville are merely a symptom of a system that fails to support the bettering of human life by expanding the minds and life outcomes of incarcerated individuals, their families, and practitioners. Educators across the state have encountered and continue to encounter censorship challenges and overall systematic blockades to providing free high-quality higher education to incarcerated individuals.
Although the books have been returned, FTL remains an active campaign with the specific outcomes that support free, quality, and equitable college-in-prison programs.