Parole Reform White Paper

Reforms to the Illinois Prisoner Review Board: Qualifications and Duties by Sarah Aagard, Rosalind Dillon, Joseph Dole, & Raul Dorado   INTRODUCTION   In 1977, Illinois ended an 80-year tradition in criminal justice by removing the opportunity for parole.[1] Now, there are over 5,500 prisoners in Illinois serving life sentences or de facto life sentences.[2] Most of them will die in prison. The proportionate penalties clause of the Illinois Constitution provides that: “All penalties shall be determined both according to the seriousness of the offense and with the objective of restoring the offender to useful citizenship.”[3] Parole is meant to …Read More →

Parole Illinois: Who are We?

Parole Illinois.   Who are we?  We are a coalition of people inside and outside of prison who are working toward a more just and humane legal system. We believe in the power of redemption and transformation; and that it is inhumane to order people to spend decades in prison until they die there without any periodic assessment of whether such sentences are necessary for public safety. We therefore stand against policies that sentence people to death by incarceration, whether that be life-without-parole or excruciatingly long sentences that people cannot outlive. We recognize that excessive sentencing laws have piled up …Read More →

Letter from insiders to friends and family

Dear Friends and Family, We are sending this letter to all of you who have stuck by us throughout this difficult incarceration. We understand that we are not the only ones doing time; that our friends and family are suffering both visible and hidden costs due to my incarceration; and that our family is being harmed emotionally, physically, and financially. Which makes it all that much harder to ask anything more of you all and we truly regret that we have to. However, without your help, we will die in here. It’s as simple as that. We know you wish …Read More →

Parole Illinois: Who are we?

Parole Illinois.   Who are we?  We are a coalition of people inside and outside of prison who are working toward a more just and humane legal system. We believe in the power of redemption and transformation; and that it is inhumane to order people to spend decades in prison until they die there without any periodic assessment of whether such sentences are necessary for public safety. We therefore stand against policies that sentence people to death by incarceration, whether that be life-without-parole or excruciatingly long sentences that people cannot outlive. We recognize that excessive sentencing laws have piled up …Read More →

Testimony for the Nov 8 House/Senate Hearing on Parole, by Shari Stone-Mediatore

My name is Shari Stone-Mediatore. I was born in Chicago and grew up in Highland Park, Illinois.  And I am currently a Professor of Philosophy at Ohio Wesleyan University. I’ve taught philosophy to men and women convicted of violent crimes. I’ve also supported several men with life and de-facto life sentences in Illinois, Ohio, and Michigan in their efforts to pursue education, apply for scholarships, publish their writing, and participate in productive activities, such as art and essays contests. I’ve been amazed by these individuals and what I’ve learned from them. One thing I’ve learned is that there is no such …Read More →

Testimony for the Nov 8 Joint House/Senate Hearing on Parole, by Sarah Ross

Dear Members of the IL General Assembly, Please accept this letter as my support for re-introducing parole in IL. For the last 13 years I have taught classes in IL state prisons through both state-contracted community colleges and through a volunteer based non-profit, Prison + Neighborhood Arts Project. For the last 20 years I have worked with people impacted by the criminal justice system as survivors and offenders through my work serving survivors of domestic violence, supervising volunteers at a books to prisoner organization, volunteering alongside formerly incarcerated people in communities in art and education organizations. Over this time, I …Read More →

Debate Team memo to Pritzker’s Restorative Justice Cmte., Dec 3, 2018

December 3, 2018 TO:  Committee Chairs Kim Fox, Jehan Gordon-Booth, and Robin Kelly CC: Lieutenant Governor-elect Juliana Stratton, Representative Rita Mayfield FROM: The Stateville Debate Team RE: Invitation to meet with the Stateville Debate Team   We are aware that Governor-elect Pritzker has announced the formation of a Restorative Justice and Safe Communities Committee. We appreciate that the Governor-elect recognizes the need to fix our broken criminal-justice system and to do so in a way that “move[s] away from a system of imprisonment and build[s] a true system of justice.” We are writing today for two reasons. First, we believe …Read More →