Author Archives: James Kilgore

FirstSteps Community House

“Our community needs a transitional house … we’re gonna reach out and help people get employment, help them bond back with their families and be able to give back to the community.” — Casandis Hunt, peer mentor at FirstFollowers, talking … Continue reading

Posted in African Americans, Community, Housing, incarceration | Comments Off on FirstSteps Community House

Reflecting on the Prison Labor Strike: Driving Toward the “Dismantling Process”

This year’s Prison Labor Strike was one of the most amazing mobilizations of liberatory politics in the past decade. It was the latest iteration in the most recent generation of prison rebellions, which has included labor strikes in Georgia prisons … Continue reading

Posted in incarceration, prison strikes | Comments Off on Reflecting on the Prison Labor Strike: Driving Toward the “Dismantling Process”

“You’re Still in Jail”: How Electronic Monitoring Is a Shackle on the Movement for Decarceration

(A longer version of this article originally appeared in Truthout.) By James Kilgore Despite the “law and order” vows of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, states and counties continue to take steps to reduce prison and jail populations. In August, Cook … Continue reading

Posted in Justice, Prisoners | Comments Off on “You’re Still in Jail”: How Electronic Monitoring Is a Shackle on the Movement for Decarceration

Fighting Mass Incarceration Under Trump: New Strategies, New Alliance

By James Kilgore Yusef Shakur is a Detroit community organizer who spent several years in Michigan state prisons. “The prison-industrial complex has found the right person to feed it,” he said in response to the election results. “Trump is of … Continue reading

Posted in African American, Justice, Policing, Prisoners, Trump | Comments Off on Fighting Mass Incarceration Under Trump: New Strategies, New Alliance

Racism and Mass Incarceration in the US Heartland: Historical Roots of the New Jim Crow

If asked what state had the highest rate of incarceration rate of black men, most people would likely cite somewhere in the old Confederacy, perhaps Mississippi or Louisiana. They would be about 1000 miles too far South. According to labor … Continue reading

Posted in African Americans, Justice, Latino/a, Prisoners | Comments Off on Racism and Mass Incarceration in the US Heartland: Historical Roots of the New Jim Crow

The Criminalization of Poverty

When most people think of mass incarceration they think of massive prisons–Stateville, Sing Sing, Angola. But mass incarceration has a local face: jails. In our own county Build Programs, Not Jails has fought for three years to halt plans to … Continue reading

Posted in Prisoners | Comments Off on The Criminalization of Poverty

New Book by James Kilgore, Understanding Mass Incarceration

Frequent Public i contributor James Kilgore’s book Understanding Mass Incarceration: A People’s Guide to the Key Civil Rights Struggle of Our Time was released September 1. Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow has called James “one of my … Continue reading

Posted in Justice | Comments Off on New Book by James Kilgore, Understanding Mass Incarceration

FirstFollowers Reentry Program Opens Doors

Governor Bruce Rauner has pledged to reduce the state prison population by 25% over the course of the next ten years. At present there are over 400 people in Champaign County on state parole. If Rauner makes good on his … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on FirstFollowers Reentry Program Opens Doors

Chuco’s Justice Center in Los Angeles: Home of “College Prep, Not Prison Prep”

In August I travelled to California as part of my research into the use of electronic monitoring in the criminal justice system. My first stop was a converted factory along the border between South Central Los Angeles and Inglewood, Chuco’s … Continue reading

Posted in Policing, Voices of Color, Youth | Comments Off on Chuco’s Justice Center in Los Angeles: Home of “College Prep, Not Prison Prep”

Voices from the No More Jails Campaign

In early 2012 the powers that be in Champaign County criminal justice brought forward a plan to close the downtown jail and build a massive extension onto the satellite facility in East Urbana. When the proposal came before the County … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Voices from the No More Jails Campaign

21st Century Slavery, Electronic Style

Somewhere in the middle of a November night in 2009 I got a phone call from my then 95 year old mother. She said she had chest pains, had already phoned 911 and thought she was having a heart attack.  … Continue reading

Posted in Policing, Technology | Comments Off on 21st Century Slavery, Electronic Style

Fight to Stop New Jail Coming to a Head

I’ve been involved in the No New Jails in Champaign County campaign for over a year. Likely sometime in June or July our efforts will come to a head. The County Board likely will take a vote on whether to … Continue reading

Posted in Policing | Comments Off on Fight to Stop New Jail Coming to a Head

The New Jim Crow Comes to Champaign-Urbana

If there was one constant during my six-and-a-half years in prison (apart from bad food), it was being surrounded by thousands of  mostly African-American and Latino men doing sentences like twenty, thirty or forty years for drug-related crimes. One friend … Continue reading

Posted in Policing, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign | Comments Off on The New Jim Crow Comes to Champaign-Urbana

The New Operation Wetback? Immigration and Mass Incarceration in the Obama Era

(This article first appeared in Counterpunch Online August 4, 2011) Last week Representative Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) joined a demonstration in Washington D.C. to protest the refusal of President Obama to use his executive powers to halt the deportations of the … Continue reading

Posted in Immigration, Latino/a, Politics, UC-IMC | Comments Off on The New Operation Wetback? Immigration and Mass Incarceration in the Obama Era