Why We Exist
The United States is a prison nation, 1 in 4 people incarcerated in the world reside in US prisons and jails. People who go to jail need to be treated like people both while they’re there and when they get out.
Our Mission: UUPMI will facilitate connections between Unitarian Universalist (UU) congregations and those incarcerated in Illinois to build a UU presence inside prisons and engage participants in advocacy to reduce incarceration. Throughout this work, UUPMI will embrace a shared vision of restorative over punitive justice, center the experiences of people most directly impacted by the prison industrial complex. and foster liberty that is both physical and spiritual.
Our Unitarian Universalist principles call us to affirm the inherent worth and dignity of every person and to engage in a free and responsible search for truth and meaning. We want to engage those most in need of affirmation – the people locked up, often for very minor offenses, in Illinois prisons, who look to worship services for badly needed peace and solace. The UU Church of the Larger Fellowship serves 700 people in prison who deeply value our shared faith, and 260 people in Illinois prisons have pen pals through the GLBTQ group Black & Pink. The need is clear. Our UU presence and support in prisons can save sanity, spirit, and even lives.
The Chicago UU prison Ministry of Illinois will foster connections between UU congregations and Illinois prisoners.
Mass Incarceration: The United States has 5% of the world’s population and 25% of its prisoners. It is even worse for women: the U.S. holds nearly 33% of all women incarcerated worldwide. Racial disparity is a major factor: black people are 10.1 times more likely to be sent to prison for drug offenses than white people, although whites use and sell more drugs than blacks do. Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercies, urges us to get in proximity to injustices we want to challenge. The UU Prison Ministry of Illinois will do exactly that.