Overhaul The Parole System

Prison reform is crucial to ensure Illinoisans of all backgrounds are treated fairly. We must stop monitoring individuals who have served their time and are not a threat to society.

Neither diversion programs or reentry programs are new to the state of Illinois. The challenge for us in Illinois is implementation and bringing these things to scale

Do not subscribe to putting someone in prison as a means to addressing substance abuse.

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More Incarceration Will Not Make Us Safer

Since 2000, the increased use of incarceration accounted for nearly 0% of the overall reduction in crime.

Research consistently shows higher incarceration rates are not associated with lower violent crime rates.

Incarceration rates and neighborhoods with concentrated incarceration, the increased use of incarceration may be associated with increased crime.

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The Prison Paradox

Despite two decades of declining crime rates and a decade of efforts to reduce mass incarceration, some policymakers continue to call for tougher sentences and greater use of incarceration to reduce crime.

It may seem intuitive that increasing incarceration would further reduce crime: incarceration not only prevents future crimes by taking people who commit crime out of circulation, but it also may dissuade people from committing future crimes out of fear of punishment. In reality, however, increasing incarceration rates has a minimal impact on reducing crime and entails significant costs.

There is a very weak relationship between higher incarceration rates and lower crime rates.

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Dismantle Unjust Systems

The ongoing scourge of police terrorism has reinvigorated an important national conversation about policing and incarceration — their history, purpose, and practice. While some have called for reforms, like stricter use-of-force policies and enhanced body cam protocols for officers, others have demanded more sweeping change.

Not only do police and prisons fail to make us safer, but reform has only strengthened their most toxic ingrained practices. The only answer is abolition, a full dismantling of the carceral state and the institutions that support it.

Instead, we need to invest in a future that puts justice and the needs of the community first.

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Counting All Political Prisoners

When we think of “political prisoner,” we usually have in mind someone imprisoned either for their political beliefs or their anti-government activity.

In the United States today, very few people are recognized as being political prisoners. In reality, there are tens of thousands who should be recognized as such; not because of their political beliefs or actions, but because their continued incarceration is due to being exploited for political gain by politicians, prosecutors, and judges.

They may not start out as political prisoners, but they become political prisoners when they continue to be incarcerated beyond any justification and are refused release simply due to political calculations.

Tough-On-Crime rhetoric and false claims about the deterrent power of harsher sentences have been used by politicians for over four decades to get elected.

Joseph Dole Is An Incarcerated Writer, Co-Founder & Policy Director Of Parole Illinois

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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.”

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Heartbroken World Mourns The Death Of John Lewis

John Lewis, a lion of the civil rights movement whose bloody beating by Alabama state troopers in 1965 helped galvanize opposition to racial segregation, and who went on to a long and celebrated career in Congress, died.

He was 80.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi confirmed Lewis’ passing late Friday night, calling him “one of the greatest heroes of American history.”

“All of us were humbled to call Congressman Lewis a colleague, and are heartbroken by his passing,” Pelosi said. “May his memory be an inspiration that moves us all to, in the face of injustice, make good trouble, necessary trouble.”

In a speech the day of the House impeachment vote of Trump, Lewis explained the importance of that vote.

“When you see something that is not right, not just, not fair, you have a moral obligation to say something, to do something. Our children and their children will ask us what did you do? what did you say?” While the vote would be hard for some, he said…

“We have a mission and a mandate to be on the right side of history.”

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MORE STORIES LIKE THIS. PLEASE AND THANK YOU.

A University of Illinois college-in-prison program created a reentry guide for those released from prison and jail during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Every year, the Education Justice Project updates one reentry guide to reflect the latest information about resources available to those released from prison and returning to Illinois communities, as well as another guide for those being deported to Central American countries following their release.

This year, however, Rebecca Ginsburg, EJP’s director, says it became clear the group needed to create a reentry guide specific to release during the coronavirus pandemic.

The group who worked on the document “interviewed people who had been released during (the COVID-19 pandemic) to understand what the particular challenges were, and they worked very hard to get the guide produced in one month,” Ginsburg says.

She says one challenge newly released people face is a lack of information about the virus.

“And the guide seeks to provide that,” Ginsburg says. “So they know, for example, why it’s so important to wash your hands regularly.”

The guide advises people released from incarceration to quarantine for 14 days before interacting with their family, and it also provides guidance for what to do if they fall ill.

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AMERICA GETS LESSON IN MERCY FROM THE PHILIPPINES

The Philippines has released nearly 10,000 prison inmates as the country races to halt the spread of coronavirus in its congested facilities, according to a Supreme Court official.

“The court is very much aware of the congested situation in our prisons,” Associate Supreme Court Justice Mario Victor Leonen told journalists on Saturday as he announced that 9,731 inmates had been released.

The move followed a directive issued by the Supreme Court to lower courts to release those awaiting trial in prison because they could not afford bail, Leonen told reporters.

Also among those who were ordered released were prisoners sentenced to jail for six months or below, as well as qualified elderly and ailing prisoners. They were released between March 17 to April 29, according to news reports.

Physical distancing is all but impossible in the country’s prison system, where cells are sometimes filled to five times their capacity due to inadequate infrastructure and a slow-moving and overburdened judicial system.

Outbreaks of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, have been reported at some of the most overcrowded jails in the Philippines, affecting both inmates and staff.

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