Soros Fellowship Awarded to UCIMC’s James Kilgore for Electronic Monitoring Campaign

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July 25, 2017


We are proud to announce that James Kilgore has been awarded the prestigious Open Society Foundation Soros Justice Fellowship for 2017-18. Building on work supported by Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center (UCIMC) for the last three years, James’s Open Society Fellowship will focus on developing a national campaign on the use of electronic monitoring (EM) in the criminal legal system. Kilgore has been researching electronic monitoring since spending a year on a monitor as a condition of his own parole in 2009-10.

This project comes at a critical time when many jurisdictions are moving towards the use of electronic monitoring as a strategy for decarceration, often with draconian conditions of house arrest. James’s work will mobilize a nationwide network to develop a set of guidelines for electronic monitoring which will center the rights of those on the monitor and contest unjust EM policies such as user fees and unregulated collection of location tracking data.

“Without policy and organizing intervention in the use of electronic monitoring now, the dream of decarceration could turn into a nightmare. The way EM is deployed could lead to greater freedom and community connections, or could increase surveillance and control while putting it out of sight, limiting freedom of movement throughout poor communities,” said Danielle Chynoweth, co-founder of UCIMC and former Organizing Director at the Center for Media Justice.

This project is co-hosted by the Center for Media Justice, a racial justice organizing hub that champions the media and technology rights communities of color and America’s poor, and the Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center, a local base-building organizing with a ten-year history in supporting effective criminal justice reform campaigns. These organizations collaborate through the Media Action Grassroots Network (MAG-Net), a national network of 100+ groups working together to amplify the voices of impacted communities to win communication rights and power by influencing policy and shifting culture.

A project of Open Society Foundations, Soros Justice Fellowships fund outstanding individuals to undertake projects that advance reform, spur debate, and catalyze change on a range of issues facing the U.S. criminal justice system.

In addition to his work on electronic monitors, James has played a leading role in local social justice campaigns as the Co-Director of FirstFollowers reentry program and a founding member of Build Programs, Not Jails. He is also the author of five books, including the highly acclaimed Understanding Mass Incarceration: A People’s Guide to the Key Civil Rights Struggle of Our Time. James played a key role in UCIMC’s work in the 2014-15 campaign for Prison Phone Justice.


Contact: Brian Dolinar

Program Director

Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center

202 S. Broadway Ave.

Urbana, IL 61801

About Brian Dolinar

Brian Dolinar has been a community journalist since 2004.
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