Illinois Supreme Court Hears Challenge To Mandatory Life For Young Adults

A man who was found guilty for acting as the lookout in a double homicide nearly three decades ago is asking the Illinois Supreme Court to find his mandatory life sentence without parole unconstitutional.

A lawyer for Antonio House argued before Supreme Court Tuesday that his life sentence for a crime committed when he was 19 violates the so-called proportionate penalties clause of the Illinois Constitution.

This clause in the constitution states: “All penalties shall be determined both according to the seriousness of the offense and with the objective of restoring the offender to useful citizenship.”


Housing Is A Human Need: Why Take It Away?

Our justice system should keep communities safe, hold people accountable for harm, and then let people rebuild their lives and support their families. The problem is that Illinois residency restrictions:
• force 100s of people with past convictions into homelessness, very disproportionately Black men
• force 1,200 people to remain in prison due to lack of housing
• push people out of safe and stable housing when the residency zones change;
• and therefore decrease community safety.

HB3913 was written in partnership with victim and housing advocates to address this acute housing crisis. Please take 30 seconds to email your legislators using this form.


Taking A Second Look A Long Sentences

Today The Sentencing Project released a comprehensive analysis of a growing, powerful tool to curb mass incarceration: second look policies that enable extreme sentences to be re-evaluated.

The report, A Second Look at Injustice, reveals that a remarkable 25 states have recently introduced such legislation to review long sentences and reforms have advanced in jurisdictions across the country. These reforms could significantly shrink the prison population and tackle its racial disparities.


Let’s Celebrate Mothers Who Are Fighting To Set Their Loved Ones Free

Now is the time for healing the many divine forms of the feminine, led by Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color (BIPOC), mothers and the stewards of our next generations.

As the world is coming face to face with the truth of our mortality through COVID-19, intensified authoritarianism, land confiscation, border control and mass incarceration, anyone who parents will experience Mother’s Day in struggle. Indeed, mother-survivors of victims of police violence, torture, deportation, incarceration and war have walked this road for decades.

For many BIPOC who mother, Mother’s Day is just as much a day of pain as it is a day of love, especially for those who have experienced forced separation from their children or loved ones by the state.


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.