As a grassroots movement working to address racial, gender, and economic injustices produced by our local criminal justice system, we have made one of our main efforts in recent years the prevention of new jail construction and the mass-incarceration mindset that goes along with it. Our ongoing effort has had remarkable success, thanks in great part to the tireless work and vision of fellow CUCPJ member James Kilgore.
In February 2014, a local right-wing newspaper launched an attack against Dr. Kilgore, reporting, as if it was news, on his criminal background and political activities in the 1970s, and questioning whether the University of Illinois―where he currently teaches―should employ him. Although in March a spokesperson for the University made a statement in support of Dr. Kilgore, in April in a private meeting with the University provost, James was informed without explanation that the University would not approve any future employment contracts with him.
We in CUCPJ see this treatment―the attack articles and his dismissal/firing without reasons―as injustices perpetrated not only against James Kilgore but all people with felony convictions who have paid their debt to society. We believe in building a multicultural democracy that includes the voices of those formerly incarcerated. Dr. Kilgore has every right to contribute to our community, participate in the democratic process, and assert himself as a citizen of Champaign-Urbana. We call for the University to reverse its decision and rehire James Kilgore. We also call on the community to sign the petition supporting him.
An injury to one is an injury to all.