Pritzker Wants to End Cash Bonds, Mandatory Minimum Prison Sentences
WGLT - By TIM SHELLEY • JAN 9, 2020
Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced a pair of ambitious criminal justice reform goals Thursday: the end of cash bonds and mandatory minimum sentences in Illinois. Pritzker says it's part of "prudently" reducing the state's 40,000 inmate prison population. He acknowledges it will likely take several years to implement, but says ending cash bonds is a priority. There's work to be done to try to find a solution for ending cash bail, but it will, in my opinion, during our administration, we will have made enormous strides," he said. "And I believe we will end cash bail during this adminstration."
Degradation, Neglect And Roaches: Inside Illinois’ Largest Women’s Prison
WBEZ News by Patrick Smith
January 2, 2020
The staff and inmates at Illinois’ largest women’s prison agree the facility is “falling apart,” “neglected” and “unsanitary.”
The deteriorating physical condition is one of the key findings of a new report from the independent prison watchdog John Howard Association on the Logan Correctional Center in central Illinois.
The newly released monitoring report notes that the Illinois Department of Corrections has eased overcrowding at Logan, which houses the vast majority of the state’s female prisoners, but also warns “there is still much to be improved.” Those needed improvements include more mental health practitioners, a more professional and respectful workforce and the overdue physical repairs.
Many families struggle to pay for phone calls with loved ones in U.S. prisons
NBC News by Lindsey Pipia
Dec 31, 2019
“You have 60 more seconds." "You have 30 more seconds.”
The female voice interrupted each time Maria Marshall talked on the phone with her son in prison.
But the chance to make contact for three or four minutes a day, a few days a week, came with a cost. Marshall spent $120 in just two weeks in July for her son to call her and other relatives and friends.
“My son is just trying to get through it,” Marshall said a few weeks before he was released. NBC News agreed not to publish his name, age or what he was convicted of because he is still in his teens. “He’s afraid. He’s scared. It’s a traumatic experience. Talking to familiar people and his family is making that experience less traumatic.”
I Got to Leave Prison for a Few Hours - It Broke My Heart
Marshall Project By Byron Case
The guards wake me by slamming the lock on my cell's sliding door, a noise like an aluminum stepladder abruptly collapsing. My alarm clock reads 4:17 a.m. Disoriented with sleep, I wonder if I'm still dreaming. The truth dawns incrementally: My long-awaited hospital visit must be today. I reach for the gray pants and white T-shirt folded on my foot locker. This movement's too sudden. My heart starts pounding, and I'm instantly nauseated, but this is nothing new. In fact, it's the reason I've been awakened at this unthinkable hour in the first place.
There are only so many health issues that the prison is equipped to deal with. On-site medicos did refer me to a cardiologist in what prisoners often give the fantastical appellation “the outside world.” Unfortunately, the bureaucracy's taken three and a half long, anxiety-riddled months to okay me to see one. Learning I'd been approved gave me a measure of relief, but I had no clue just when I'd be going out. To minimize the chance of escape attempts, the powers that be treat as top secret the date and time of trips beyond the facility's boundaries.
How to Fix Our Prisons? Let the Public Inside
New York Times: Opinion by Neil Barsky
Dec 17, 2019
Decades after the prison population began its growth surge, criminal justice reform has finally moved into the national conversation.
Last December, President Trump signed the First Step Act, reducing federal prison sentences. Democratic presidential candidates are proposing far-reaching reforms on bail, sentencing, punishments for drug-related crimes and voting rights for incarcerated Americans. New York City is set to close its notorious jail complex on Rikers Island. And Philadelphia, Chicago and other major cities have elected progressive district attorneys.
Unfortunately, what happens inside the walls of the nation’s prisons has not changed at all. They can be stifling in summer and freezing in winter. The residents are often belittled, abused and cut off from anything resembling rehabilitation. Constitutional protections are virtually nonexistent; solitary confinement, to pick one example, is considered torture by much of the world, but is business as usual inside America’s state and federal jails and prisons, home to roughly 2.1 million people.
Here is what the next president, or President Trump, can do to reform mass incarceration: Open up this hidden world to the public. I call my proposal “Let Us In.”
A Couple That Crafts Together Stays Together
The Marshall Project by Jenny Jimenez
Dec 19, 2019
Jenny Jimenez and her husband, Jesse, who is incarcerated in Illinois, have found creative ways to show each other love, especially around Christmas. Puzzle filters, nail clippers and Lifetime original movies are involved.
My husband, Jesse, has been back in prison since last January. He was released last Christmas Eve, hours before we were married, but we didn’t get to do much together during the weeks he was out. He had an ankle monitor, and he couldn't even use the upstairs bathroom without it going off because the parole agent hadn’t come by yet to give him movement. He couldn’t get back to work or begin his engineering classes. He would watch me out the window struggling with groceries and cleaning snow off the car and it began to wear on him.
A woman who was part of Oklahoma's mass release of 462 inmates says 'there's more drugs in prison than there is on the streets', and if you can stay clean inside, you can thrive outside
Business Insider by Ashley Collman
Nov 11, 2020
In January 2016, Calista Ortiz lost a son to sudden infant death syndrome and started doing meth.
About a year later, Ortiz — who didn't know she was a few days pregnant at the time — was arrested for drug possession and sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison in Oklahoma.
Separated from her infant daughter shortly after giving birth and facing nearly a decade behind bars, it would be understandable if Ortiz felt defeated. But she focused instead on earning her GED and getting a forklift certification. And now her hard work is paying off.
Why I changed my mind on having second chances at life after prison
The Hill by Michael O'Hanlon
Nov 5, 2019
I am no specialist on criminal justice, and my own instincts, based partly on close personal connections to several murder victims over the course of my lifetime, lean towards the hard line on matters of violent crime in particular. But something I saw in a high security District of Columbia Correctional Facility nonetheless had a major impact on my outlook.
Georgetown University professor Marc Howard invited me to address a group of several dozen prisoners who are enrolled in the Georgetown Prison Scholars Program last month to discuss American national security policy inside the jail. That same afternoon, Marc had taught a lesson to a group of students, half from Georgetown University and half incarcerated individuals from the facility, as part of his course for credit on criminal justice and prisons. I had not seen so many people in orange suits in one place since the last time I visited an American military jail in Afghanistan, where members of the Taliban made up the majority of the detainees. My experience in the District of Columbia was much more uplifting because of the attitudes and aptitudes of the individuals with whom I spoke.
How Indianapolis employers are adjusting to hiring ex-offenders amid tight labor market
Indianapolis Star by Amanda Zhou
Nov 6, 2019
William Troutman Jr., 46, got his second chance at a recycling center. He started as a picker on the presort line, then he got his forklift certification. He was recently promoted. He makes $10.50 per hour working the floor where recycled material gets compressed and shipped away. "This place opened the doors when they didn’t have to for a lot of offenders, and opening doors really gives offenders a new light," he said. Troutman said he first become involved in the justice system at 16 in the early 1990s.
College Behind Bars
PBS A film by Lynn Novick.
Stream all episodes November 25 at 9/8c.
Explore the transformative power of education through the eyes of a dozen incarcerated men and women trying to earn college degrees – and a chance at new beginnings – from one of the country’s most rigorous prison education programs.
What this is about
Learning asks us to change – so that the world might be a place for all are free to thrive