Category Archives: incarceration

The Assault on the Pretrial Fairness Act

Last month, News-Gazette columnist Jim Dey headlined “hysteria” over the provisions of the 2021 Illinois Pretrial Fairness Act (PFA), which will go into effect in January, including the end to cash bail. Predictably, but illogically, Dey located the hysteria on the side … Continue reading

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Links

The Public i is partnering with the Education Justice Project (EJP) to share writing completed by incarcerated students at the Danville Correctional Center. The EJP is a comprehensive college-in-prison program based at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Through its educational … Continue reading

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Donald Trump v. Shamar Betts

I, Shamar Betts, incited a riot through a Facebook post encouraging my people to join alongside the rest of the world in an attempt to express our feelings on the tragic death of George Floyd in May of 2020. Although … Continue reading

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Reckless Law, Shameless Order: Behind the Scenes

  One afternoon in April of 2021 Faranak Miraftab called me to ask if I was interested in holding an art workshop with formerly incarcerated artists in continuation of the “IDENSCITY,” a conceptual art space that I had been developing … Continue reading

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Two Stories from Statesville Prison

Saving Your Mind: Mental Health in the Age of Corona “This is some next-level shit. I thought I’d seen it all in my 20 years in prison,” said Murder (no real names used), my Quarantine Sanitation Specialist co-worker, as we … Continue reading

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Urbana-Champaign Books to Prisoners’ Mission to Bring Books (and Bibliophilia) Behind Bars

When it comes to helping people make a fresh start after incarceration and avoid returning to prison, few approaches are as effective and vital as education. Many people who wind up in the prison system do not have enough literacy … Continue reading

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Shamar Betts Case Moves to Federal Appeals Court

On April 8, the case of Urbana resident Shamar Betts moved to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Betts was arrested in June, 2020 in the midst of a national crackdown on protests against the murder … Continue reading

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“It’s a Money Grab”: Billions in COVID Relief Going to Fund Police and Prisons

If you’re from inner-city Birmingham, Alabama, there’s a “99-percent chance” you have a family member or friend who has been incarcerated, according to Veronica Johnson, deputy director for the Alabama Justice Initiative, which has been fighting against a proposal to … Continue reading

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Fines, Fees, and Escalating Bail Bonds: Champaign County Urgently Needs to Implement the Pretrial Fairness Act

The Champaign County Bailout Coalition (CCBC) is a grassroots organization that uses community donations to pay low bail amounts for incarcerated individuals who don’t have access to financial resources in their moment of crisis. Founded in 2018, CCBC now pays … Continue reading

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Taking the Band-Aid Off of Mass Incarceration

On a bad day, those of us seeking justice can find little to be hopeful about. The recent acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse again reminds us that the law is designed to protect white lives. Even after widespread protests and demonstrations … Continue reading

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Hunger Strike, Ceiling Collapse, Lawsuit Spotlight Deteriorating Conditions at Logan Women’s Prison in Illinois

“I’ve been incarcerated since the age of 18, I grew up in the penal system,” shares Mishunda Davis. “I went from the Cook County jail to Dwight prison, to Lincoln, and I have never seen as many condemned buildings as … Continue reading

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Bail Systems as Wealth-Based Incarceration, or “No Money, No Justice”

  The Eighth Amendment to the US Constitution prohibits “excessive” bail, a prohibition that dates back to English common law, and is largely honored in the breach. In Champaign County Jail, on any given day this past winter, there were … Continue reading

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“It’s Scary Having a Fifteen-Year-Old Son”: Community Voices on Gun Violence in C-U

In the midst of the global pandemic, Champaign-Urbana has its own local epidemic: gun violence. As of July 20, police had received 95 reports in 2020 of shooting incidents in Champaign alone. This is more than double the total for … Continue reading

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Disease and Denial in Prison

This letter was received from Stateville Prison in early April, reporting on conditions there during the COVID-19 crisis.q I am a student in Northwestern University’s Bachelors program. Like many other students, I also work, though in my case, both my … Continue reading

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Blurs and Erases

We find ourselves at an interesting moment. Pivotal, in fact. As we collectively attempt to navigate uncharted waters, I am constantly thinking about how prepared I am. For a large portion of my life, lockdown was my reality. This in … Continue reading

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Champaign County Bailout Coalition Plans Noise Demonstration Rally

The Public i has received this press release from the Champaign County Bailout Coalition. We have published the statement in its entirety below. To download a copy of this statement, click here. Champaign County Bailout Coalition Noise Demonstration Rally Demanding … Continue reading

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Champaign County Bailout Coalition Open Letter to County Officials Regarding COVID-19 Pandemic

The Champaign County Bailout Coalition (CCBC), a coalition of groups and individuals in focused on bailing out individuals in our Champaign County jails who cannot afford bail, has released an open letter which we have published below.

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UC Books to Prisoners Ships Thousands of Books in Mega-Packing Day

On Monday March 16, with the number of COVID-19 cases in the United States beginning to skyrocket, many who were able were already taking steps to work remotely and shelter in place. But down in the basement of the Independent … Continue reading

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Criminal Justice Reform to Return Dignity to Community

This is an edited version of the statement by 103rd District Illinois State Representative Carol Ammons made to the Champaign County Board on November 21, 2019. For more on criminal justice reform ideas, see http://www.staterepcarolammons.com/. Good evening, members of the … Continue reading

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The Trump Administration Just Opened a New Immigrant Prison in Rural Michigan

From his office at the Cristo Rey Church in Lansing, Michigan, Oscar Castañeda runs a campaign against a new federal immigrant prison, part of President Donald Trump’s escalation of immigration enforcement. In May, 2019, the Trump administration awarded a ten-year, … Continue reading

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