Ohio Will No Longer Sentence Kids To Life Without Parole

Ohio is expanding access to parole hearings for people who have been incarcerated ever since they were children. It will no longer sentence minors to life without the possibility of parole, and it will significantly curtail sentences that effectively amount to the same.

Youth justice advocates are celebrating Senate Bill 256, which was signed into law by Governor Mike DeWine on Saturday, as their latest win in nationwide efforts to keep kids from spending their life in prison.

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HB 3653: Here’s A Look At What’s Included

A bill that brings sweeping criminal justice and police reforms, including the end of cash bail in Illinois, is now headed to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s desk.

House Bill 3653, authored by the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus, was approved by Illinois General Assembly Wednesday, bringing significant changes to things like police training policies, police accountability, transparency in law enforcement and the rights of detainees and prisoners.

Among the changes the bill would bring are the elimination of monetary bail, a requirement that all police officers wear body cameras by 2025, a ban on all police chokeholds…

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The Cops At The Capitol

At least 26 sworn members of U.S. law enforcement agencies from at least 11 states have been identified by law enforcement agencies and local reporting as attendees of the Jan. 6 rally in support of President Trump that sparked a riot at the U.S. Capitol.

Beyond that tally, several former law enforcement agents attended the rally, and still more current law enforcement officials are under investigation for making statements in support of the rally.

American policing is rooted in white supremacy: many contemporary police departments originated as patrols dedicated to terrorizing and capturing enslaved people.

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REDEMPTION AT STATEVILLE: Battling False Hope 4 Cookies At A Time

He did time in Pontiac. He did time in Menard. He did time in Stateville.

Those places held Smiley but they will not define him which is to say of course they will define him because how can you spend time in a place and not take a part of that place with you?

Now Smiley works at Legacy Reentry Foundation in Waukegan.

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My Brother Was Condemned to Death—Then He Was Condemned to Covid-19

My brother, Billie Allen, has been fighting for his life on two fronts.

He has waged the first of these fights from federal death row, against a legal system that was not designed to find truth or enact real justice. He has waged the second fight from hospital beds, plagued by health issues that affect his very ability to prove his innocence.

As Billie’s sister—and his best friend—I am more than a witness. My brother’s fight is my fight. His loss of freedom is mine.

My fear has increased sharply these last months as both of my brother’s fights took a dangerous turn. As the lame-duck Trump administration continues its race to kill as many people on death row as it can before the inauguration—10 people on federal death row have been executed in less than six months, with three more execution dates scheduled before January 20—Billie’s name could be called at any time. And on December 16, as Covid-19 continued to rip through prisons, including federal death row, I received a phone call from my brother: Billie had tested positive for the virus.

When I heard the news, my stomach sank.

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COVID-19 And Illinois Prisons Virtual Town Hall

State Representative La Shawn K. Ford hosts a virtual town hall to discuss state prison conditions during COVID-19.

This town hall is a chance to convey concerns about the Illinois Department of Corrections.

When: Monday, January 11, 2021

Time: 5:30 PM to 6:30 PM

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People In Jails, Prisons Will Be Vaccinated In Next Phase

People incarcerated in Illinois will be among those vaccinated against coronavirus during the next phase, according to a newly released state plan.

People incarcerated in jails and prisons will be prioritized for vaccines along with people who are 65 and older, certain essential workers and people experiencing homelessness or residing in shelters.

They’ll all be given access to vaccines during the next phase, know as Phase 1B.

But it will be several weeks, if not months, before Phase 1B of vaccinations start. The state is currently focused on vaccinating health care workers and people living and working in long-term care facilities, like nursing homes.

People detained in Cook County Jail awaiting trial will be among those vaccinated during Phase 1B.

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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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