Tamms supermax legislation

HB 2633 was introduced by Rep. Julie Hamos and 20 co-sponsors immediately signed on. Tamms bill factsheet and learn about this bill.



Since I didn’t get to share my reflections with the class or the surprisingly large amount of people who came for the Stateville Speaks event, I’ll post mine here.

I enrolled in the Stateville Speaks class because I thought the subject material we’d learn would be interesting, the thought of working as a class to publish an edition of Stateville Speaks sounded exciting, and I had taken Laurie Jo before and I knew that she is a very unique teacher and deeply invested in prison system issues, especially Tamms.  Even though I’m a film major and I knew nothing about the prison system or journalism or really anything pertaining to the class, I knew it would be a good experience.  At first, I’ll be honest, I wasn’t so sure it was really a good choice for me to be taking the class.  Everything seemed chaotic and somewhat disorganized, and we had random guest speakers every week and all these letters to organize.. I just wasn’t really sure what we were doing or if any of the things we were doing in class would help with the publication.  Looking back though, everything we did in that class helped in some way towards our publication- whether it be sparking in interest in certain topics through the various readings we were given, or through the diverse speakers that we heard, or learning how to make a professional, kick ass publication through some gurus we heard from.  I can safetly say I learned something every time I stepped into the classroom, even though some days it wasn’t yet clear how it pertained to the publication. Now I understand that in order to create a truly great publication, we had to explore all areas of the prison system, and hear accounts from all different types of people involved in it.  One day I was crying to Jennifer Bishop-Jenkins’ tragic story of her sister’s death, the next I was learning what challenges the IDOC faces and how they go about their business,  another day I’d be learning how Akeem turned his life around by creating the Save Our Sons organization once he got out of prison for charges relating to drug distribution.   It was a fascinating class, and I think every single student got something out of every Wednesday.  I can’t believe Laurie-Jo was able to squeeze all of these great resources into one semester, but she did and I believe it has made all the difference in our publication. 

The event was amazing.  I had no idea the turnout would be so great, or that the speakers lined up to talk would do such a great job, or that the audience would be so genuinely interested in these topics, judging by their sincere questions and responses. It made me proud to have been in the class and to have been working on the publication because I felt like the important messages of needed change in the corrections sphere were actually getting across to a large amount of people.  Everyone involved, great job.  Seriously.  That was really something, and I’m glad to have been part of it.

Just wanted to say…

I was amazed with the presentation yesterday and all the support and response all our hard work is getting. Congrats to all of you for your fantastic work!

I received the following Facebook message yesterday from Peter Wagner, the Executive Director of the Prison Policy Initiative (in regards to my paper about Felony Disenfranchisement):

Thanks for the mention of the Census Bureau’s prison miscount in your Stateville Speaks editorial.

For what it’s worth, the prison miscount’s impact on state and federal funding is actually extremely small. Most government programs are too sophisticated to be fooled by this; but the impact on the political process and redistricting is quite large. We have a report about prison-based gerrymandering in Illinois scheduled for release in January.

Stay tuned. http://www.prisonersofthecensus.org


-Peter Wagner

Thanksgiving poll

Victims Voices

Victims voice’s need to be be heard too. When Jennifer Bishop came to speak in class, I was completely touched.  I have had a little experience with a victim of a crime.  My 2nd cousin’s family was murdered, and the surviving member of that family, my 2nd cousin, returns every year to Leavenworth Maximum Security Prison every year, in Leavenworth Kansas, in order to keep the guilty man from receiving parole.  I see how she hurts, just as I saw Jennifer hurting.  It is important to take into consideration that the victims aren’t just the ones that literally got physically hurt. Their families and friends are suffering emotionally, as the pain and hurt never fully goes away.  I never thought about the ways victims deal with their pain. Either buried away in a place that at any moment can be dug up when a familiar smell, name or memory comes to mind. Or victims can take the pain and turn it around into something positive to help them deal.  Websites are dedicated to just this: the victims.  After looking over some of  them I realized that it never really ends at the Continue reading

Reflections From Guest Speaker Darrell Cannon

Darrell Cannon is one of the best speakers that has come to our class, and one of the best speakers that I have ever heard. He was tortured by officers of the Chicago Police Department trained by Jon Burge. Jon Burge used torture tactics such as suffocation and even attaching electrical clips to men’s testicles to try to get them to confess. Another horrible torture tactic that Darrell Cannon described- a police officer loaded a gun (or made the sounds of loading a gun) and said they he would shoot Darrell Cannon if he did not confess. Mr. Cannon refused, and was forced to go through the trauma of thinking that he would be shot in the mouth three times in a row. The abuses that Mr. Cannon described made me cringe, they made me Continue reading

Response to Victim’s Websites

It was not until Jennifer Bishop Jenkins came in to speak to our class about victim’s rights did I ever really start thinking about victim’s rights at all. To me, being a victim seemed like such a passive and depressing experience, but it really isn’t. You can do a lot of things as an active victim to ensure that you’re wishes are being considered, that the offender is serving his/her crime, and to ensure your own safely as well as your family’s. Websites such as www.murdervictims.com/Parole and http://www.citizensagainsthomicide.org have a set of guidelines to follow when protesting the parole of the offender and offer legal help. This includes writing a detailed description of the crime, a history of the victim’s life, their future goals and reasons why the offender shouldn’t be paroled. I understand why many victims would want to do this- especially if they feel that the offender is only spending a minimal amount of time in prison, yet at the same time I feel like it is a very anti-restorative justice movement. Victims don’t seem to have any concern for rehabilitative Continue reading