Our Purpose: To Serve as a Digital Resource Center


The United States has far more people in prison and in jail than public safety requires. This damages the lives of those who are incarcerated, their families, and their communities. It also contributes to a cycle of crime and punishment and diverts resources from more constructive uses. We have much work to do to achieve a fair and effective criminal justice system.

The resource materials located on the various menu pages above include materials from the resource binder distributed at programs on Confronting the Moral Crisis of Mass Incarceration that St. Chrysostom’s Episcopal Church in Chicago hosted in the Winter of 2018 in order to promote greater understanding of the criminal justice system and to begin to provide tools for individuals and organizations to get involved in promoting radical change. Leading experts spoke to the full range of complex issues that we need to address in order to rethink and change the laws and practices that have resulted in too many men and women—most of them people of color—being imprisoned or jailed.

Videos of each of those two-hour programs are available on this homepage.

Autumn of Justice Reform in Chicago

The fall offers many opportunities to continue our focus and involvement in efforts to advance the cause justice in our criminal justice system.

The update on opportunities and resources for Getting Involved in Criminal Justice Reform contains links to information about an array of events and opportunities to get involved in advocacy and volunteer activities, as well as links to important new reports from David Olson, The Illinois Justice Project, The People’s Lobby, Chicago Appleseed, Injustice Watch and others about incarceration trends in Illinois, the positions on criminal justice issues of the candidates for Illinois Attorney General, progress in the Cook County States Attorney’s office, treatment of the mentally ill in our jails and more.

In the area of advocacy, we would draw your attention to:

  • The opportunity to participate in tthe downtown rally against the use of cash bail on Tuesday, September 18, 2018 from 10:00 – 11:00 am. at Randolph and Clark Streets to demand full implementation of Chief Judge Evans’ General Order 18.8A limiting the use of cash bail, and
  • the need to act now, as discussed below, in joining the broad coalition that is promoting the Fair Housing Initiative to overcome barriers facing those who have been incarcerated in obtaining access to decent housing in Cook County, and
  • the opportunity to go to http://www.thejha.org/luncheon2018 to reserve your a place at the upcoming Annual Luncheon of the John Howard Association, which will take place on Thursday September 27 from noon to 2:00 at the University Club.

The Fair Housing Initiative For Increasing Housing Opportunities in Cook County for Those Who Have Been Arrested or Incarcerated

As noted before and as described in more detail at https://www.cafha.net/jhi-subpage2, this effort focuses on the campaign to gain support from members of the Cook County Board of Commissioners for amending the Cook County’s Human Rights Ordinance to prohibit landlords from refusing to rent to individuals on the basis of having an arrest record, and from implementing a policy of not renting to anyone who has been convicted of a crime.  (Landlords’ would still be entitled to consider a prior conviction among all other factor in each individual case.)

We can each help:

  • by getting churches and other organizations of which we are members to join the large coalition of organizations that have endorsed this proposal, using the Endorsement Form attached here, and
  • acting now to get individuals to voice their support, by

-writing to Patricia Fron at pfron@cafha.net to obtain quantities of the individual endorsement cards that the coalition has prepared in the form shown at https://www.cafha.net/jhi-main,

-distributing them to be signed by residents of Cook County and

returning the signed cards to Patricia by October 15 for sorting and forwarding to the appropriate Cook County Commissioner.

Time Critical: Contacting Governor Rauner To Insist That He Sign Legislation Promoting Criminal Justice Reform

Legislation Promoting Criminal Justice Reform That Was Approved by the Illinois Legislature But That Needs the Governor’s Signature To Become Law.

Contacting the Governor, individually or with others, to ask him to sign the bills promoting criminal justice reform that passed the Legislature, and that need his signature to become law (partial list):

Penalties and Corrections

HB 3920 (Driving on a Suspended License) to reclassify as a petty offense (rather than a Class A misdemeanor)  the first two instances of driving on a suspended license due to unpaid traffic fines and failing to pay support or to comply with visitation orders.

HB 4888 (Data Collection re Corrections Issues) to  require the inclusion of specific data, such as incidence of violence in correctional facilities, parole revocations by county, completion of evidence-based programs, vacancy rates at work-release centers, in Department of Corrections’ quarterly report, to enable executive team to review, identify trends and take steps to mitigate violence.

Diversion

SB 3388 (Incentives to Counties to Divert Those Charged to Community Based Services) to expand eligibility to participate in Adult Redeploy Illinois (ARI) to all probationable offenses.

SB 3023 (Substance Abuse) to create the Community-Law Enforcement Partnership for Deflection and Addiction Treatment Act to allow law enforcement to facilitate contact between community members and substance use treatment providers.

Registries and Collateral Consequences

SB 3489 (Registration of Offenders) to allow individuals required to register on the Murder and Violent Offender Against Youth Registry to request review of any errors in the information that led to the registration mandate.

SB 336 (Use of Medical Marijuana) to authorize the Department of Public Health to establish the Opioid Alternative Pilot Program The program to allow treatment of a medical condition with medical marijuana rather than an opioid, and to remove the restriction for individuals with conviction for “excluded offenses” on eligibility for a cannabis registry identification card.

SB 2560 (Publication of Criminal Records) to provides that any website that publishes criminal record information for profit shall correct any errors in a record within 5 business days of notification of the error and shall not publish booking photographs for civil offenses and offenses that are classified as less than a Class A misdemeanor.

Court debt

HB 4594 (Court Fees and Costs) to  organize and consolidate court fees and costs that are imposed on court users and create a sliding scale fee waiver for poor criminal defendants.

HB 5341 (Sealing Criminal Records) to prevent denial of sealing petition for unpaid fees, fines or assessments ordered by a court, law enforcement or other units of government. 

Prisoner rights:

HB 4469 (Voting Rights)- to insure that people held in jails in Illinois can vote – Here is a story on that measure.

HB 5104 (Medical copay) to abolish the $5 copay that IL inmates must pay to see a doctor.

Gun safety:
SB 3256  (Gun Purchase Waiting Period)- to increase the waiting period on all gun purchases to 72 hours.

HB 2354 (Firearms Restraining Order) to allow family or law enforcement to petition the courts to have a firearms temporarily removed from the home of a person determined to be a risk to themselves or others.

SB 337 (Combating Illegal Gun Trafficking Act) to require that Federal Firearms License holders in Illinois be certified by state police.

How to Contact Illinois Governor Rauner Regarding Legislation Promoting Criminal Justice Reform passed by the Illinois  Legislature.

Governor Rauner needs to hear from you. Call: 217-782-0244 or 312-814-2121 or visit:

https://www2.illinois.gov/gov/contactus/Pages/default.aspx