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, disproportionately the lives and families and communities of people of color. It also contributes to a cycle of crime and punishment and diverts resources from more constructive uses.

This purpose of this website is to provide information that individuals and organizations need in order to get involved in confronting the moral crisis of mass incarceration in Illinois and elsewhere, by accumulating and organizing the growing body of information about 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, and about the many ongoing efforts that one can support for making our response to criminal behavior both fairer and more  effective.

That growing body of information is accessible through the links accumulated both in the summary document on opportunities and resources, which you will find under in the section entitled “Getting Involved” and in the documents that break down that same information by subject matter in the other sections of the website listed above.

Those resources also include video recordings available on this homepage of programs featuring leading experts that were hosted by St. Chrysostom’s Episcopal Church in Chicago in 2018 to promote greater understanding of the criminal legal system and to begin to provide tools for individuals and organizations to get involved in promoting radical change.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed on this website are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the CDLU. 

Ramping Up Focus on Reentry, Immediate Calls Needed to Chicago Aldermen, and Legislative Advocacy Begins Again in Illinois

Ramping Up Focus on Reentry, Immediate Calls Needed to Chicago Aldermen, and Legislative Advocacy Begins Again in Illinois

We start the new year with information and links throughout the website to upcoming programs and new resources that advance the increasingly robust focus we are seeing on improving the experience and opportunities of those released from prison in Illinois.

Calling Your Alderman Now To Preserve Police Accountability for Serious Offenses

But the immediate need is for each of us in Chicago is to call our aldermen, and a few others on the Chicago City Council who may be wavering, to vote to reaffirm the Council’s decision at its December meeting to override the decision of an arbitrator that police officers can escape accountability for serious misconduct by removing disciplinary proceedings to secret arbitration, which has a history of exonerating police officers that CPD has charged with serious offences.  Failure to override the arbitrator’s decision with this final vote would gut police accountability in Chicago through arbitration overrides of police disciplinary proceedings.

  1. Find your Ward, your Alder and the Alder’s Phone number here, by entering your Street Address, and call her or him on Monday if possible
  2. Call each of the following alders, who may be wavering on the issue:
  • call Bennett Lawson (44th Ward) at 773- 525-6034 and Ruth Cruz (30th Ward) at 773-628-7874  
       – to thank them for voting to override the arbitrator’s decision and 
       – to ask them to vote again on Wednesday to override that decision, to preserve public safety
  • call Nicole Lee (11th Ward) at 773-254-6677, who voted against the override in December
       – to emphasize the threat that the arbitrator’s decision poses to public safety and 
       – to ask her to vote to override the arbitrator’s decision on Wednesday. 

   Here is a link to a Fact Sheet about this issue, and what the City Council needs to do about.

Thanks to those who made a difference by making calls in December.  Calls are needed again now because every vote is needed to confirm the City Council’s decision in December in the interest of promoting justice and protect public safety in our city.  

Illinois General Assembly

Legislative committee meetings will begin soon, requiring quick responses with witness slips, but the need now is to get a couple of important bills that have passed one house of the General Assembly to be called for consideration by other house in the upcoming shortened legislative session.

So please:

  1. Call Senator. Elgie Sims – (773) 933-7715 to urge that he post HB 2347 in committee asap.  That bill has already passed the House. It would raise the Minimum Age for Pretrial Detention of Juveniles in Illinois gradually from 10 to 13, and it represents a compromise after a decade of negotiations on how to raise the age of detention to avoid harming children.  You can access a fact sheet on the bill here.
  2. Call Senate President Don Harmon at (217) 782-8176 to ask that he schedule a vote on House Bill 1496, which has already passed the Senate.  It would help with the proper implementation of the Illinois ban on prison gerrymandering. 

Please also take a look at the new resources on justice reform and on improving the lives of returning citizens that you can find linked at various section of the website.

Organizations to Support at Year-End, New Advocacy Needed, and Links to New Resources on Justice Reform from 2023

Organizations to Support at Year-End, New Advocacy Needed, and Links to New Resources on Justice Reform from 2023

The updated sections of the website now include links to a wealth of new Books, Reports and Articles and other Online Resources from 2023, in addition to a call for urgent advocacy with the Chicago City Council and a partial catalogue of justice reform legislation enacted in Illinoi in 2023 with the help of citizens who filed witness slips in advance of House and Senate committee hearings. In addition to being included in the various sections of the website, references to new resources are shown in bold at the tab Getting Involved.

There is also an updated list of Organizations to Support and Follow as 2023 comes to an end.

Resources of particular interest for getting involved in justice reform include the tools highlighted at the tab on Advocacy in Illinois and the following resources:

Executive Summary: https://spac.icjia-api.cloud/uploads/RESENTENCING%20TASK%20FORCE%20FINAL%20REPORT_Exec%20Summary-20230124T16172377.pdf

As always, please take a look and consider both how you can get involved and whom else you know who might be interested in the website.

Illinois Legislation, Resentencing Recommendations, Improving the Reentry Experience, and Addressing The Trauma of Incarceration

This month I have updated the attachment to highlight a number of new action items and resources, which you can find at the tab Getting Involved, including:

  • links to some actions that you can take now to support some of the justice reform legislative that is being introduced in the new sessions of the Illinois General Assembly,
  • the Final Report of the bipartisan Illinois Resentencing Task Force, issued in January: Click here to view.

View the Executive Summary

  • several resource guides and hubs for returning citizens, including:

https://www.intelligent.com/education-and-career-guide-after-incarceration/ 

https://reentryillinois.web.illinois.edu/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/Mapping-Your-Future-2022-Interactive.pdf

https://www.justice.gov/archive/fbci/progmenu_reentry.html

  • and a new bundle of resources, templates and opportunities to connect, which you can use to get involved in helping to address the mental health issues and trauma that arise from incarceration: Click here to view.

Please take a look and consider both how you can get involved and whom else you know who might be interested in the website.

As always, please feel free to let others who may be interested know of these resources.

New Resources for Building the Movement for Justice Reform in 2023

There is every indication that 2023 will be a banner year for progress in the work for justice reform.

In addition to archives of the full range of resources for getting involved in that work, the website now includes new links under Upcoming Events for joining some in-person and online events coming up later in January and links under Getting Involved and under Books, Reports and Articles to several important new reports and other resources, including:

  • Reports from The National Academy of Sciences on “Reducing Racial Inequality in Crime and Justice” and from the Sentencing Project on the “Diversion: a Hidden Key To Combatting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Juvenile Justice:   

https://nap.nationalacademies.org/read/26705/chapter/1, and

https://www.sentencingproject.org/reports/diversion-a-hidden-key-to-combating-racial-and-ethnic-disparities-in-juvenile-justice/ and

  • Resources for the coming expansion of opportunities for higher education in prisons, as Pell Grants once again become available to finance such programs:

www.intelligent.com/education-and-career-guide-after-incarceration/ and

www.icjia.illinois.gov/about/publications/illinois-higher-education-in-prison-task-force-2022-report and

John Oliver – Finally, to get a burst of energy for the fight to end cash bail (while we in Illinois wait for the Illinois Supreme Court to uphold the SAFE-T Act) be sure to have a listen below to John Oliver’s energetic advocacy in for bail reform in this “Last Week Tonight” program from last fall.  

As always, please feel free to let others who may be interested know of these resources.

Fall Events, New Reports, and Resources for Defending the Pretrial Fairness Act

The fall season of justice, and injustice, is in full swing. 

Defending the Pretrial Fairness Act

Please give your priority attention to the resources that you will find at the tab Getting Involved for 

  • informing yourself about the Pretrial Fairness Act, which eliminate cash bail in Illinois on January 1, and
  • taking action to defend the Act against attempts to repeal it or gut it. 

Take a moment to use the convenient link to contact your legislators, asking them to join the Coalition to End Money Bond in combatting misinformation about the Act.

Reports and Resources for Returning Citizens

There are links to some important new resources for returning citizens under the Release and Reentry tab, and in the documents at the Books, Reports and Articles tab, you will find links to new reports on electronic monitoring and on the extreme racial disparity in wrongfully convictions in this country.

In the documents at the Upcoming Events tab, you will find details of a number of upcoming events, including:

The revised documents in these and other sections of the website continue to contain links to the wealth of resources that have been accumulating over the past months and years, to provide the basis for each of us to define and pursue our roles in the efforts to reform the criminal legal system.

Please feel free to let others who may be interested know of these resources.

Events for the Fall and Reports from the Summer on Justice Reform

Reports on the state of our criminal legal system, and on initiatives to improve it, continued to proliferate while we were enjoying the summer.  

The revised documents that you will find at the tabs Getting Involved, and Books, Reports and Articles, provide fresh data about how system operates and thoughtful commentary on topics such as diversion from incarceration, repurposing of prisons and recognizing the humanity of those who have been incarcerated.

The revised documents that you will find at  Getting Involved, and Upcoming Events contain links to information about some of the opportunities that we have this fall to celebrate with those whose efforts are transforming the conversation about justice reform in Illinois and who are serving the needs of those who are impacted by the system.:

As always, the revised documents in these and other sections of the website continue to contain links to the wealth of resources that have been accumulating over the past months and years, to provide the basis for each of us to define and pursue our roles in the efforts to reform the criminal legal system.

Please feel free to let others who may be interested know of these resources.

Thank you for all that you do.

New Online Resources and Reports and Upcoming Online Events

The spring session of the Illinois General Assembly created a busy time for citizens and advocates in defending last year’s justice reforms, including the Pretrial Justice Act, and opposing additional ineffective punitive measures for those accused of a crime and those who have served their time.  There is a summary of the results of those efforts on this website under the subheading Advocacy In Illinois and at the tab Getting Involved.  

The revised documents that you will find at the tabs Upcoming Online EventsBooks, Reports and Articles and Getting Involved also highlight new online resources and reports:

  • discussing the disfunction and injustice in Illinois prisons and what is needed to reform them,
  • providing digital exhibitions and an activation kit for Envisioning Justice,
  • focusing on the scope of juvenile incarceration and the impact of our increasing incarceration of women who are mothers, and
  • highlighting the development of advocacy and resources to improve the lives of those who have served their time.

Upcoming Online Events

The purpose of this post is to highlight links to a number of upcoming online programs in which we can participate as we gear up to tackle Justice Reform in 2022, which appear in the revised documents at the tab Upcoming Online Events and at the tab Getting Involved.  The revised documents at the tab Books, Reports and Articles and at the tab Sources of Support for Returning Citizens contain links to new reports related to promoting just outcomes for young offenders and to information about additional organizations devoted to improving the lives of those who have been released from prison.

Tackling Justice Reform in 2022

The new year brings important new initiatives in

  • reducing the barriers and increasing the support for people returning from prison,
  • supporting the full implementation of last year’s landmark justice reform legislation in Illinois, including the Pretrial Fairness Act,
  • continuing to transform our system of juvenile justice,
  • expanding the use of restorative justice practices, and
  • and challenging racial disparities at every level of our criminal legal system.

Please link to information about some of them in the revised documents that you will find in the sections of the website on Getting Involved, Sources of Information, Volunteer opportunities and Upcoming Online Events