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Jail Literacy Program (on hold due to pandemic)

Adult Basic Education (reading, writing and math) classes are offered at the Walworth County Jail in Elkhorn, WI. Small group classes of incarcerated adults, who are interested in furthering their education, are taught by volunteers who are professional educators.

Upon release from jail, Walworth County Literacy Council (WCLC) assists individuals wishing to continue their studies in Adult Basic Education, GED support or English as a Second Language by matching them with a tutor in their community.

For more information about this program please email or call (262)-475-9180

Walworth County Jail Literacy Program was awarded the prestigious Eisenberg Award from the State Public Defender Board for its outstanding efforts in empowering the disenfranchised through education, 2015.

Incarceration Statistics

● Incarcerated adults are two times more likely than the general population to have no high school credentials.

● 95% of incarcerated individuals are released into the community; they need to rebuild their lives, secure gainful employment and pay taxes.

● More than 75% of individuals released from prison into the community are of prime working age, between 25-54 years of age.

Investing in Correctional Education:


Investment in correctional education benefits the individual, community and the correctional setting. Educational programs increase successful re-entry into the community. As a result, individuals are better equipped to gain and maintain employment with sustainable wages. Additionally, correctional education instills lifelong learning skills, which can expand our workforce for the demand of more highly skilled workers.

Jail Literacy Program Success

On average, WCLC volunteers instruct 80 incarcerated individuals per year. WCLC instructors speak very highly of the students and their desire for learning and improving their lives.

There are numerous success stories of those who completed their GED, or increased their reading, writing and math skills, and then continued their education either in the prison system or out in the community. WCLC collaborates with the Walworth County Job Center and Gateway Technical College to ensure that those re-entering the community are quickly and appropriately referred for continuing education or employment assistance. They are also informed about WCLC community program eligibility.

Awards and Recognition

Outstanding Volunteer Service 2019

Walworth County Jail Literacy Program

recognized by Walworth County Board Supervisors

Guest Presenter 2019

Walworth County Jail Literacy Program

Wisconsin Technical College System Conference

Guest Presenter 2019

Walworth County Jail Literacy Program

Wisconsin Technical College System Conference

Eisenberg Award 2015

Walworth County Jail Literacy Program

awarded by the State Public Defender Board for outstanding efforts in empowering the disenfranchised through education.

Jail Literacy Program History

The Jail Literacy Program began in the summer of 2007, as the WCLC Board of Directors embarked on researching the need and desire for a literacy program within the county jail. The first step was to create a survey -- via a questionnaire—that addressed demographics and the need for literacy classes among the newly incarcerated. The survey was then distributed by jail staff to each new incarcerated individual. From June 2007 to December 2007, 567 surveys were completed. The survey results clearly illustrated a need and desire for literacy classes in the Walworth County Jail.

Several national studies have shown that correctional-based educational programs have a significant impact on the recidivism rate. For example, a Three State Recidivism Study, published in 2001, focused on 3,200 individuals who were released from prison in three states: Maryland, Minnesota and Ohio. The study evaluated the three common areas of recidivism—re-arrest, re-conviction, and re-incarceration—and compared those who had participated in educational opportunities while incarcerated and those who had not.

Based on the local need and desire for jail literacy classes, the proven effects of educational jail programming, and the cooperation of the Walworth County Jail, WCLC launched its Jail Literacy Program in 2008. WCLC Board Members, administration, volunteer tutors, and the Walworth County Jail administration and staff all contributed to laying the foundation for the Jail Literacy Program.


Help Reduce Recidivism

Giving incarcerated individuals better tools for personal success reduces their chance of returning to prison once they are released. Help strengthen your community by supporting jail literacy.

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