COVID-19: Coming To A Jail Near You

Jails have become petri dishes for COVID-19.

The majority of people in jail have not been convicted of a crime, yet they are being exposed to the coronavirus. Those who cycle in and out of jails are also taking COVID-19 back into their homes, infecting Black, brown, and poor white communities.

There are almost 2.3 million people incarcerated in the United States, the majority in state and federal prisons where people serve sentences of one year or longer, and turnover is slow. Yet in county jails where people serve short stints, there are more than ten million admittances every year, making it even more important to contain the spread of COVID-19 there. President-elect Joe Biden’s plan for the pandemic includes no mention of jails or prisons.

Even in the face of a global pandemic, the United States remains deeply wedded to mass incarceration.

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Illinois Expunges Nearly 500,000 Cannabis Arrest Records

Governor J.B. Pritzker closed out 2020 by expunging nearly 500,000 non-felony cannabis-related records, an action mandated by Illinois’ marijuana legalization law that went into effect a year ago.

As part of the action, the governor also pardoned 9,219 low-level cannabis conviction records, part of the state’s efforts to repair the damage inflicted by the war on drugs ― primarily on residents of color.

“We will never be able to fully remedy the depth of the damage in communities of color, who have disproportionately shouldered this burden,” Pritzker said. “But we can govern with the courage to admit the mistakes of our past — and the decency to set a better path forward.”

Illinois Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, which legalized cannabis in the state, required the government to expunge 47,000 cannabis-related arrest records created between 2013 and 2019 by Jan. 1, 2021.

In a unique twist, the law also created a program that reinvests 25% of cannabis tax revenue into a fund for youth development, anti-violence programs, re-entry programs, economic development and civil legal aid services.

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Support Parole Illinois: Janet Jackson

Give the gift of resources this holiday season!

Parole Illinois is pushing for policy changes that help reverse cycles of violence and incarceration and give people like Janet a fair chance to be reviewed for release.

With your help, we can bring their stories to a wider audience and gain support for a system of Earned Discretionary Reentry that provides our loved ones opportunities to finally come home.

You can support us by making a donation.

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Support Parole Illinois: Howard Keller

Parole Illinois is pushing for policy changes that help reverse cycles of violence and incarceration and give people like Howard fair chances to be reviewed for release.

With your help, we can bring the story of Howard and others like him to a wider audience and gain support for a system of Earned Discretionary Reentry that provides our loved ones opportunities to finally come home.

Make a gift to Parole Illinois this season so we have the resources to pass Earned Discretionary Reentry in Illinois. You can donate here…

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Support Parole Illinois: Valdez Jordan

Parole Illinois is pushing for policy changes that help reverse cycles of violence and incarceration and give people like Valdez fair chances to be reviewed for release.

With your help, we can bring the story of Valdez to a wider audience and gain support for a system of Earned Discretionary Reentry that provides our loved ones opportunities to finally come home.

This month we are raising money so we can raise awareness and gain support for Earned Discretionary Reentry in Illinois. You can support us by making a donation…

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Stimulus, Round 2: Incarcerated People Will Be Eligible For New Round Of Payments

In the wake of the recently passed stimulus bill, many Americans are complaining about the paltry direct payments of $600.

Without detracting from Congress’s failure to support the millions of people who need help, it is worth pausing to acknowledge one unexpected victory in the bill: It contains no prohibition on stimulus payments for incarcerated people.

It’s a good thing that Congress stuck to the policy of including incarcerated people in the pool of eligible recipients.

Even before the pandemic, day-to-day life in prison and jail was getting expensive, with commissary charges for basic food and hygiene items, and increasingly common pay-to-play e-book and music programs.

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Kim Foxx’s Approach To Drug Crimes Is Bold — And Necessary

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx outlined a bold step forward this week, envisioning some convicted marijuana dealers having their convictions automatically wiped clean, with those busted for cocaine and heroin possession possibly getting their convictions expunged.

We know this kind of talk is sure to rankle professed law-and-order types, and it certainly could never be done without a drug treatment network that is far more robust than what the county currently has.

“I think this is the gateway conversation to deeper conversations around treating addiction as a public health issue and looking at the drug economy that has flourished in these neighborhoods while every other bit of economy has abandoned them.”

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Amid Criminal Justice Reform Push, Advocates Say Felony Murder Should Be Next

Advocates of criminal justice reform in the United States have had several achievements in the last couple of years. Both sides of the aisle embraced calls for lower prison populations. A growing social movement calls for rehabilitation over punishment.

Supporters say part of that debate should be changing the felony murder law.

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COVID-19 Compels America To Rethink Who We Lock Up In Prison

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the limits of our criminal justice system.

Now, we have an opportunity to change it for the better. We should start by following the science, advocating for our most vulnerable populations to have access to protections, treatments and vaccines.

Then we need to ask a bigger question — whether it makes sense to incarcerate so many people in the first place.

Even as the first doses of the vaccine are administered, we are in for a tough winter. And people locked up in prisons, jails and detention centers are among those most at risk of contracting COVID-19, becoming gravely ill, or worse.

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Support Parole Illinois: Benard Mckinley

Give the gift of resources this holiday season!

Parole Illinois is pushing for policy changes that help reverse cycles of violence and incarceration and give people like Benard a fair chance to be reviewed for release.

With your help, we can bring their stories to a wider audience and gain support for a system of Earned Discretionary Reentry that provides our loved ones opportunities to finally come home.

You can support us by making a donation:

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