Candidate Survey: Action Needed

Elections matter when it comes to reforming our criminal legal system.

Restore Justice Illinois sent out its first candidate survey for all Illinois General Assembly and state’s attorney offices.

Do you want to find out how people running feel about important issues? Issues related to the criminal legal system? Including sentencing? And prison condition issues?

If so, we need your help to make sure candidates actually fill it out…


Landmark Decision

The Illinois Supreme Court unanimously ruled in a landmark decision that a 41-year sentence for a juvenile offender constitutes the equivalent of a life term.

The decision triggers sentencing protections for juvenile offenders who are sentenced to more than 40 years in prison.

“We should be concerned about how long you have to spend in prison for what you did, despite the fact that you were so willing to give someone else a death sentence.”


Iowa Ends Lifetime Voting Ban On People With Felony Convictions

Iowa’s governor signed an executive order ending the state’s lifetime voting ban for anyone with a felony conviction, a historic move because Iowa was the only state in the country enforcing such a severe policy.

The order from Kim Reynolds allows people with felony convictions to vote once they complete their sentences, including parole and probation.

“Today we take a significant step forward in acknowledging the importance of redemption, second chances and the need to address inequalities in our justice system. The right to vote is the cornerstone of society and the free republic in which we live.”

“When someone serves their sentence, they should have their right to vote restored automatically.”


End Death By Incarceration Art Show & Contest

Please vote for your favorite piece in each of the categories – Artists in Prison and Artists in Solidarity – vote by October 7th.

Winners will be announced by October 15th.

We extended the deadline until September 30th for incarcerated artists with the caveat that the sooner they get their pieces in the more chances they have for votes.

Because of Covid we had more trouble getting the word out as people in prison were more restricted from each other so they couldn’t as easily pass the word along.


Compassionate Release

In compassionate release cases, judges have to decide if an inmate’s situation presents “extraordinary and compelling reasons” to reduce their prison sentence.

In some cases reviewed, judges found that an inmate’s medical conditions met the standard given the pandemic.

Judges are making medical assessments about how much of a threat COVID-19 poses to an individual inmate and then deciding how to balance that against the public safety risk of sending that person back into the community; inmates are usually released to home confinement or under the supervision of a probation officer.

And judges are reaching different conclusions about how to measure an inmate’s risk of exposure in state and federal prisons, which have seen some of the worst clusters of COVID-19 cases nationwide.


La Shawn K. Ford Calls Out The Teaching Of White Privilege

State Representative La Shawn Ford said he wants to abolish history classes in Illinois until a new curriculum is developed.

“We’re concerned that current school history teachings lead to white privilege and a racist society,” Ford said.

Ford met with local leaders, calling on school districts to throw out their history books and instead focus on civics and teaching students how to be part of the democratic process.

Ford introduced a bill in the Illinois House amending the school code to require the study of the American Civil Rights Movement.


The Final Words Of John Lewis

Ordinary people with extraordinary vision can redeem the soul of America by getting in what I call good trouble, necessary trouble. Voting and participating in the democratic process are key.

The vote is the most powerful nonviolent change agent you have in a democratic society. You must use it because it is not guaranteed.

You can lose it.


Keeda Haynes For Congress

Former public defender Keeda Haynes, who was also formerly incarcerated, is running for Congress in Tennessee, challenging a nearly two-decade Democratic incumbent and hoping to become the first Black woman the state sends to Congress.

After her release, Haynes completed her law degree and practiced as a public defender in Nashville for over six years. Haynes thinks her time in prison — and her experience defending others caught up in the country’s racist criminal justice system — are precisely what would make her a great congresswoman.

“I am running because looking around I can see that people that look like me, that have the same issues I have, we were not being represented in this district.”