Parole Illinois aims to change the perceptions, policies, and power relations that have maintained mass incarceration and extreme-sentencing in our state. We pursue these aims by bringing incarcerated voices into prison-policy discussions, training impacted people to share their stories and lead mobilization efforts, and educating the public and policymakers about the harms of extreme sentencing and the need for policies that give every incarcerated person in the state a fair chance to return home.
Who Are We?
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 in Illinois, to the point that few people understand them and thousands of people are now required to die behind bars. We also recognize that each of these problematic sentencing laws needs to be repealed. And we recognize that each ameliorative law needs to be applied retroactively. However, we don’t believe that we can wait to establish a fair parole system until each of those battles are won individually, because many people will die behind bars in the meantime.
Therefore, our first course of action is to bring to Illinois a fair, inclusive, and retroactive system of Earned Discretionary Release. We are building a grassroots movement and working with legislators to promote parole legislation that is inclusive and that prioritizes rehabilitation and return to full citizenship. In addition, this legislation must distinguish the initial trial (which focuses on responsibility for the crime) from the parole hearing, which should focus on a person’s level of rehabilitation and current risk to public safety.
We believe that such a system of discretionary release would present the most expeditious way for the many over-incarcerated and wrongly incarcerated men and women in Illinois to obtain their freedom. We don’t take this lightly. We are prepared to devote substantial effort to establishing a fair and inclusive parole system and maintaining a fair and effective parole board.
We seek to mobilize people behind the wall as well as activists and loved ones of incarcerated individuals to fight for a fair and inclusive system of discretionary release and, more broadly, for a more just and humane legal system.
If you are on the inside and want to get involved in the campaign for a fair and inclusive parole system, send your name, ID number, and facility to the PO Box below; or, alternatively, a friend on the outside can email your name, ID number, and facility to firstname.lastname@example.org and ask for you to be added to our membership list.
601 S. California Ave, Chicago, IL 60612
We regret that we do not have the staff to respond to individual queries at this address. However, your family and friends on the outside can email us at ParoleIllinois.org, check out our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ParoleIllinois/ and receive regular email updates when they sign our support form: https://paroleillinois.org/support-us/