The Solidarity Building Initiative for Liberative Carceral Education at Cook County Jail exists to create an ecosystem of beloved community through liberative theological seminary education. The program seeks to mitigate the numerous material, social, and political barriers that system impacted individuals (and their communities) experience while incarcerated and upon release. We envision that seminary education in jail will not only provide resources for intellectual and spiritual growth and flourishing for incarcerated learners, but the program will also create communities of belonging and advocacy. The Solidarity Building Initiative is rooted in a multi-prong community-driven model, which employs a liberative pedagogy within the following program pillars:
- Seminary education in jail offers incarcerated learners an opportunity to earn a Certificate in Theological Studies with a focus on intellectual, spiritual, and practical tools for holistic transformation as persons in community.
- Community engagement and re-entry support convenes community relationships and networks that position McCormick Theological Seminary to be a connector of incarcerated learners (and their community) to churches and networks of support that could assist in re-entry ands eek to address the issues of mass incarceration, criminal justice and police reform, and community building.
- Seminarian engagement connects students to the Solidarity Building Initiative for Liberative Carceral Education at Cook County Jail and supports McCormick’s commitment to training the next generation of faith leaders who are committed to justice, freedom, healing, and peace for all people.
- Public education and advocacy centers on initiatives and educational efforts that increase awareness and advocacy on the issues of mass incarceration and prison education and cultivate communities of solidarity with those who are impacted by incarceration.
The Solidarity Building Initiative for Liberative Carceral Education not only provides intellectual resources but also seeks to build a community within the jail and outside of the jail in order to work alongside others to create beloved community in our local neighborhoods and the broader society. In many ways, McCormick is using their platform of theological education to imagine a new underground railroad system in this new era of modern-day slavery referred to as the Prison Industrial Complex.