The Emerging Movement For Police And Prison Abolition

The murder of George Floyd last spring provoked an unprecedented outpouring of protests, and a rare national reckoning with both racism and police violence. Public officials across the country pledged police reform.

On April 20th, Derek Chauvin, the officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes, was found guilty of murder. It is rare for police to be prosecuted, let alone punished. I remember my incredulous reaction, in 1992, when my mother called to tell me that the four police officers who beat Rodney King, in Los Angeles, were found not guilty.

I remember, in the summer of 2013, being at a Chicago restaurant, having dinner with my wife, and feeling the numbing shock of seeing in real time, on television, George Zimmerman acquitted for the murder of Trayvon Martin. We left the restaurant to join a protest downtown, crossing the street to catch the train. When I walked through the turnstile, a Black woman wearing the uniform of the Chicago Transit Authority looked at me with tears in her eyes, and mouthed, “They let him get away with it.” For most ordinary African-Americans who have watched helplessly, for years, as police act with violent impunity in their communities, the conviction of Chauvin feels like justice long delayed. For Floyd’s family, the verdict came as a relief. Philonise Floyd said that the conviction “makes us happier knowing that his life, it mattered, and he didn’t die in vain.”

In a certain sense, the trial of Chauvin has been viewed as a piece of a national reform strategy.


New Report Looks At Strategies To Cut Incarceration Of Illinois Women By Half

The Task Force’s new report, “Redefining the Narrative,” not only highlights the realities of women’s incarceration, but also charts ways to halve the state’s female prison population, reduce the harms caused by current policies, and improve the lives of women, children, families and communities most devastated by mass incarceration.

While its scope is limited to Illinois, the report reflects the reality of women’s incarceration nationwide.


Slow And Inadequate: A Stateville Prisoner Divulges Pandemic Horrors

As I began working with another traumatized population—the incarcerated—the healing touch of another was impossible. The only contact permitted is a handshake upon arrival and departure. Some of the men have gone as far as to tattoo that event on their body. The event of human contact, the handshake.

Jails are a holding place for most, until they receive their sentence. Those who can’t pay bail believe that they are providing cheap labor, and are being detained as long as possible prior to sentencing. One of my students has been “awaiting trial” for ten years.


Parole Illinois Is The Proud Recipient Of The Dill Pickle Round Up Program

When Parole Illinois was selected to be the Round Up Recipient for Dill Pickle, Greg Morelli was tasked with investigating: what’s Dill Pickle, is it a Kosher Pickle, what’s a Round Up, is it for Cowboys?


No Juvenile Offender Should Face Life In Prison Without Even A Chance Of Parole Someday

We urge the state Senate to quickly pass HB 1064, which was passed in the state House last week.

The bill, sponsored in the House by Rep. Rita Mayfield, D-Waukegan, and Rep. Seth Lewis, R-Bartlett, would allow offenders who were under the age of 21 when sentenced to apply to the Prisoner Review Board for parole after serving 40 years.


Prioritizing Incarcerated People For Vaccine Quickly Reduced COVID In IL Prisons

“One thing about prison, you don’t want to get sick in here,” says James Trent, who is incarcerated in Western Illinois Correctional Center. When the chance came to get the vaccine for COVID-19, most people inside got the shot.


The Power Of Staying Connected & Love

In addition to keeping families better connected, studies show a public safety benefit to reducing prison phone call rates.

Incarcerated people who maintain contact with the outside world are less likely to commit new crimes upon re-entering society. Family and friends can help a formerly incarcerated person find housing and employment.

Advocates argue that prison communications companies, namely Securus and Global Tel Link, have taken advantage of minimal government regulation and charged above-market value rates for phone calls in many states since the 1990s. State and local corrections departments that contract with the companies typically receive a percentage commission of each call, which may be used to pay for staff equipment, maintenance needs or prisoner programs.


Death-By-Incarceration, Written By Joseph Dole

The State of Illinois, like too many states in our union, is experiencing an unacknowledged and little-known humanitarian crisis where thousands of people are over-sentenced to death-by-incarceration (DBI).

These DBI sentences destroy thousands of people’s lives for no legitimate penological purpose, are a historical anomaly in Illinois and around the world, and are completely unnecessary for public safety.


Joseph Dole is an Incarcerated Writer & Board Member of Parole Illinois

SCOTUS Guts Protections Against Sentencing Kids To Die In Prison

In a 6-3 vote, the conservatives on the Supreme Court gutted protections against sentencing kids to die in prison.

The court ruled on Thursday that a judge does not need to find that a person under 18 who commits murder is “permanently incorrigible” before sentencing them to life in prison without parole. In other words, the court approved life without parole sentences for juveniles even if the facts of the case indicate the crime was a result of youthful immaturity and impulsiveness that the individual is likely to outgrow.