From the Desk of John McLees…
After three weeks of intense advocacy for immediate release of large numbers of older prisoners and those who have been accused or convicted of minor crimes from Illinois prisons and jails, it still hasn’t happened, in spite of widespread recognition that this is essential in order to mitigate the development of a public health crisis from the spread of Covid-19 in our prisons and jails.
On April 2 a coalition of advocates filed a civil rights lawsuit against the Illinois Department of Corrections and Governor Pritzker demanding the immediate release of incarcerated people who are at high medical risk and those who are scheduled for release in the next few months. The fact that a lawsuit is required illustrates the continuing resistance from the Governor and from Cook County officials to exercising the power that they have to do what needs to be done to mitigate this crisis.
What you and your friends can do, in addition to joining Tuesday’s Caravan described below:
- It is still as relevant as ever to write to Governor Pritzker and Illinois Department of Corrections Director Jeffries at the links provided in the attached document on Getting Involved in Criminal Justice Reform, with the specific messages that you can find for them there.
- Please also open and sign these letters to Governor Pritzker and Cook County officials asking for early release of juveniles from youth prisons and from the juvenile temporary detention center, and for other protections for the juveniles who remain in custody.
- You can participate in the campaign relaunched on April 3 of writing and calling Chief Judge Evans and other Cook County officials to demand mass release of many more of those being held at Cook County Jail, using the call-in scripts, phone numbers and email addresses are available here: chicagobond.org/call-in.
- And you can still make your impact felt by accessing and sending electronically this open letter to Kim Foxx, who has the power release many prisoners in the Illinois Department of Corrections and to advocate for release of individual prisoners from the Cook County Jail.
Tuesday’s Solidarity Caravan
If you have a car, do consider joining the “Solidarity Caravan” (a protest you do in your car! Social distancing!) that a coalition of community groups are organizing for Tuesday, April 7 beginning at 10 AM, to demand mass release from adult and youth prisons and jails and immigration detention. You can get more details about participating in the Caravan by accessing this invitation email, and you can register to participate in the Caravan by using this registration form.
As noted in the registration form, those who register will receive a text message on Tuesday morning telling them where the Caravan will begin, and will also receive text messages throughout the day on where the Caravan will be a particular times during the day.
You can let others know about the Caravan, by inviting them directly, but please do NOT share information about the Caravan on social media.