The Gate’s Cook County Jail Writing Workshop is a student-run volunteer program that piloted in winter 2017 after the Gate’s staff toured the jail and interviewed Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart in spring 2016. The program consists of University of Chicago students facilitating creative and reflective writing workshops at Cook County Department of Corrections (CCDOC) throughout the school year.
Student volunteers from the University of Chicago undergo an application process and then sign a University of Chicago waiver and fill out a CCDOC background check. Students must be credentialed at the jail and must adhere to University of Chicago and CCDOC stipulations while volunteering at the jail, including maintaining confidentiality. For the fall 2017 quarter, students will work with detainees in gender segregated groups in minimum security divisions of the jail, as per University of Chicago guidelines. Volunteers will also participate in debriefs and write issue-related articles for The Gate.