Shuttered Englewood School Will Get New Life As Hub To Help Formerly Incarcerated People

A shuttered Englewood school will get a second life providing second chances to people leaving the prison system.

Granville T. Woods Elementary, 6206 S. Racine Ave., is the future home of the Reentry Holistic Life Center, a facility that will house job training and others programs designed to help Englewood’s most vulnerable residents and boost the local economy.

Woods was one of 50 schools closed by Chicago Public Schools in 2013, rapidly falling into disrepair shortly thereafter.

Nicknamed the “Regenerator,” the venture is part of the Go Green on Racine initiative, a multi-million-dollar collaboration between local groups to bring environmentally sustainable development to the area around 63rd Street and Racine Avenue.

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JLWOP: Juvenile Injustice

Today, about 700 peo­ple are still wait­ing for the resen­tenc­ing oppor­tu­ni­ty they were promised in 2016.

Anoth­er 1,450 have been giv­en reduced sen­tences but remain incar­cer­at­ed; some have become parole-eli­gi­ble but have been denied parole. Oth­ers’ new sen­tences are so long, they will not be parole-eli­gi­ble for decades. And so far, about 85 have had their life-with­out-parole sen­tences reaffirmed.

Espe­cial­ly now, as Covid-19 is spread­ing rapid­ly in pris­ons, such dif­fer­ences can mean life or death. It can feel like jus­tice by geog­ra­phy.

2015 analy­sis by the Phillips Black Project found that Black chil­dren were twice as like­ly as white chil­dren to be sen­tenced to JLWOP for the same crime. By 2016, peo­ple of col­or made up 38% of the U.S. pop­u­la­tion and 77% of those serv­ing JLWOP sen­tences. Peo­ple of col­or had 80% of JLWOP sen­tences in Penn­syl­va­nia, 73% in Michi­gan and 81% in Louisiana, the three lead­ing JLWOP states.

Pri­or to the Mont­gomery rul­ing, Penn­syl­va­nia, Michi­gan and Louisiana account­ed for more than two-thirds of the nation’s JLWOP sen­tences.

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The Radical Humanness Of Norway’s Halden Prison

To anyone familiar with the American correctional system, Halden seems alien.

Its modern, cheerful and well-­appointed facilities, the relative freedom of movement it offers, its quiet and peaceful atmosphere — these qualities are so out of sync with the forms of imprisonment found in the United States that you could be forgiven for doubting whether Halden is a prison at all. It is, of course, but it is also something more: the physical expression of an entire national philosophy about the relative merits of punishment and forgiveness.

The treatment of inmates at Halden is wholly focused on helping to prepare them for a life after they get out. Not only is there no death penalty in Norway; there are no life sentences. The maximum sentence for most crimes is 21 years.

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