Joe Pedott, Founder Of Chia Pets; The Kewanee Life Skills Re-Entry Enter; Illinois Politics Update

 
Jay Watson/Illinois Alumni Association Magazine

On the 21st: A prison in western Illinois is trying something new by investing in programs like art classes and gardening for inmates. Plus, our weekly Illinois politics update, this time with the State Journal-Register's Doug Finke and the AP's John O'Connor. But first, we chatted with Joe Pedott, the founder of Chia Pets and The Clapper.

It’s that time of year: this past weekend U of I had its commencement ceremony. As thousands of students graduate across Illinois this month, they’re hearing words of wisdom and advice from those who have come before them.

One of those people is Joseph Pedott. He's the guy behind Chia Pets and The Clapper. As soon as he finished school in 1955, he headed to Chicago to work—and never had a chance to participate in his ceremony. 63 years later this past weekend, he had a chance to walk in the College of Media’s commencement ceremony and actually be handed a diploma.


Plus—

Nearly half of all people in Illinois who are released from prison are back behind bars within three years. It’s a statistic well-known to both prison advocates and state officials alike.

One prison in northwest Illinois is trying to change that. It’s called the Kewanee Life-Skills Re-Entry Center, and it offers programs like art classes, job training, and even gardening. Prisoners inside the facility are also allowed much greater freedom of movement.

It’s been open for a little more than a year. There are 220 inmates currently there and more than 1500 pending applications.

We started with John Baldwin, director of the Illinois Department of Corrections. Then, we heard from WBEZ's Miles Bryan, who reported this story, and Ivan Carmona, who was formerly incarcerated at the Kewanee Life-Skills Re-Entry Center.


And—
 

It’s Monday, which means it’s time for us to talk politics. And what’s on everyone’s mind is the budget. State lawmakers are entering the final few weeks of their annual session trying to accomplish this goal of approving the budget -- Something that took over 700 days last time.

Will things go more smoothly this time around? Joining us with their best guesses were reporters John O’Connor from the Associated Press and Doug Finke from the State Journal Register.

Story source: WILL