Category Archives: Justice

Debt Peonage in the 21st Century: The Shamar Betts Case Continues

On August 19, Shamar Betts was sentenced to 48 months in federal prison (minus 12 for time served) for authoring a Facebook post. The sentencing also made Betts personally responsible for repaying $1.5 million for damage committed by others at … Continue reading

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The Ubuntu Project and the Need for a Progressive Shift in Policing

Ubuntu is a term that originated with the Zulu people and roughly translates to “humanity” in English. The term emerged as a political concept following apartheid’s disintegration in South Africa. Now a collective of local community members, scholars, clergy, and … Continue reading

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Police Brutality is Not Uniquely American: Try France

While we are rightly preoccupied with abuse by the police in the United States, almost no Americans know anything about policing and justice in other countries. France offers a particularly interesting case. In January, six nongovernmental organizations, including Amnesty International … Continue reading

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Scapegoating and the 2020 Marketplace Mall Riots

I watched the legal machinery eat further into the life of a young man this past month. On June 14, I joined others at the sentencing hearing for Shamar Betts at the federal courthouse in Urbana. Betts is accused of … Continue reading

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The 2021 Illinois Police and Criminal Justice Reform Bill

On February 22, Governor Pritzker signed House Bill 3653. This bill, rather a composite omnibus of many bills, was sponsored by the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus in both the Illinois House and Senate. Several of the individual bills were sponsored … 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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Shamar Betts: Caught in a Legal Drama that Started Before He was Born

No one wants to be the poster child for a Supreme Court challenge. However, finding his case before the Supreme Court could not only help Urbana resident Shamar Betts resolve his own situation, but it could redraw the legal lines … Continue reading

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Urbana Police Chief Finally Admits Misconduct in Aleyah Lewis Arrest

  It has been more than seven months since the violent arrest of Urbana resident Aleyah Lewis. Tens of thousands of people have watched the videos of Urbana Police Officers throwing Lewis to the ground, pinning her, punching her in the … Continue reading

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Governor Pritzker has the Power to Halt All Utility Shutoffs by Signing an Executive Order

Robin Brown’s utilities in Champaign were shut off by Ameren Illinois on September 18, 2020, in the midst of our historical COVID-19 pandemic. When asked about how utility shutoffs affected her, Brown said “I’ve had to give away and separate … Continue reading

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Pro-Business Bias and Conservative Extremism at the Supreme Court

As recent books and law review articles have confirmed, the Supreme Court has been moving to the right since the Nixon Administration. Abetted by Republican politicians, anti-abortion advocates and organizations, and conservative legal entities like the Federalist Society, this rightward … Continue reading

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Incarcerated Activists Raise the Bar on Parole

Over-incarceration in this country takes many forms. One form that is particularly egregious in Illinois is that of keeping people imprisoned for years, or even decades, beyond the time that they pose any risk to public safety—and even beyond their … Continue reading

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Faith in Place: Twenty Years Protecting the Earth and All Who Depend on It

At the dedication of a community garden, in a smallish county seat, I met Robyn, whose high school class had sown and nurtured the vegetable seedlings that we planted that day. She told me: “My special-needs students learn so much … Continue reading

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Illiberal America: A Report Card

I never thought I would live to see the U.S. turn into the illiberal, authoritarian, populist, white-nationalist country it has already increasingly become in early 2019. Illiberalism Turns Liberal Democracy on its Head “Liberal democracy” is characterized in theory by … Continue reading

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Artist Spotlight on Charlotte Prieu

Tell me a little about yourself and your past creative work. I am a French native and a PhD student in French Linguistics at the University of Illinois. I am very passionate about social justice, especially regarding anti-racism and intersectional … Continue reading

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History Matters: Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Fight for Economic Justice

By Stephanie Fortado Dr. Stephanie Seawell Fortado is a Lecturer at the University of Illinois Labor Education Program, providing workshops and extension programming for unions and the general public on the Champaign-Urbana campus and throughout Illinois. Before joining the University, … Continue reading

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New Bill Takes Effect Cutting Cost of Calls from Illinois Prisons

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE January 8, 2018 FOR MORE INFORMATION: Brian Dolinar, Program Director, Independent Media Center, (217) 621-5827, briandolinar@ucimc.org The Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center (UCIMC) is proud to announce that as of January 1, 2018, a new state law took … Continue reading

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“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

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4th Annual Welcome Awards Ceremony Celebrates What Makes America Great

By David Cisneros. State, national, and international news media have brought us a daily barrage of tragic or infuriating news stories. And national rhetoric increasingly features voices of nativism, racism, and hatred. In the face of all of this, it … Continue reading

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Insurgent Midwest: The Constructing Solidarities Symposium

by Ken Salo, Zsuzsa Gille and Efadul Huq   [Editor’s note: the Public i requested contributions on this important conference from both organizers and academic attendees; these perspectives have been integrated into this article.] On September 8-10, delegates from grassroots … Continue reading

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Interview with Marlon Mitchell from FirstFollowers

.  The local group FirstFollowers is only two years old, but it is already making in impact in our community.  In this interview Marlon Mitchell talks with Carol Inskeep about their mission and the ambitious range of projects the group … Continue reading

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