News & Views

A Graduation to Remember!

December’s High School Graduation was surely a testament to the determination of older students. Ernestine, 70 years old, the High School’s oldest graduate ever, amazed all those present as she delivered Graduation reflections. The high school diploma clearly represented so much to her and her family. Spencer and Phillip, also in the senior citizen category, were as proud as could be of their hard work that culminated in receiving the high school diploma. All 23 graduates had their own stories of determination and some- time struggles as they worked to complete the high school program. One of the highlights of the Graduation was the Commencement Address given by one of Chicago’s strongest community development people, Patricia Van Pelt-Watkins, who mesmerized the graduates and guests with her story of movement from private citizen to public advocate voicing the needs and concerns of many Chicagoans.

Recidivism Tracking

One of the more professionally enjoyable tasks related to life at St. Leonard’s Ministries is the annual tracking of recidivism rates for former residents. This is done by accessing the current inmate list for the Illinois Department of Corrections and matching it with former program participants’ IDOC names and numbers. The most telling statistics are related to individuals who left St. Leonard’s House or Grace House two to three years ago. Again this year, these numbers look quite positive. The rate of return for women is less than 5%; former Grace House program participants just don’t go back to prison! The rate of return for St. Leonard’s House men is approximately 20%. Recidivism rates for the general population in Illinois are higher than 50%. Simply put, solid programs and careful response to program participants’ needs result in fewer people returning to prison and greater savings to Illinois tax payers. Congratulations to program staff members at Grace House and St. Leonard’s House who bring about these positive numbers through their constant hard work and professionalism each day.