In Illinois, incarcerated individuals are facing the COVID-19 crisis without sanitation supplies, adequate communication with loved ones, or basic protections against the virus.
Now is the time to mobilize around the biggest public health crisis of our time.
IL-CHEP is a coalition of programs and educators dedicated to providing quality higher education opportunities for people who are incarcerated in Illinois. We strive to support our students as they build meaningful lives and prepare for a successful future in civic life. Equally important, we encourage public dialogue and action to reduce our state’s and country’s reliance on incarceration.
IL-CHEP has contracted with a Peoria-based distillery that is producing hand sanitizer for distribution in IL prisons. We are working quickly to acquire raw materials for hand sanitizer before prices increase beyond reach. 100% of all amounts that we receive will go towards the hand sanitizer campaign. Friends of EJP is our fiscal sponsor.
MUAVI is an organization of caregivers committed to mutual support with incarcerated caregivers and their loved ones. MUAVI also coordinates participatory/community-based defense efforts to support moms charged with acts of self-defense or for the violence of other abusers, in criminal, family and other civil courts. We are committed to abolition and universal access to housing and healthcare as the most meaningful response to gender violence, recognizing that incarceration is violence. Public sign-on letter from MUAVI, Love & Protect and other groups working at the intersection of gender violence and incarceration available here.
Parole Illinois aims to raise awareness about mass incarceration and extreme-sentencing policies in our state, bring incarcerated voices into prison-policy discussions, and research and advocate for policies that give every incarcerated person in the state a fair chance to return home and successfully reintegrate into their community.
With respect to the current crisis, we are helping to connect advocates and the press with incarcerated people and their family members and loved ones. We're especially concerned to bring the voices of people with long-term sentences into discussions of the health crisis brought on by the spread of CV 19 in the prisons and necessary responses. The March 13 Fund is our Fiscal Sponsor.
Restore Justice Illinois (RJI) is a civic organization founded to mitigate the human and fiscal impact of the extreme sentencing laws of the 1980s and 1990s, particularly where they have impacted children. Our first priority is ending the practice of sentencing children to “life without parole” in Illinois by helping the Illinois General Assembly make good policy based on principled legal analysis, best practices in other states, guidance from the US Supreme Court, and international law. We’re a 501 (c) 4 organization that utilizes it’s resources to engage in direct legislative advocacy at the state level. Our “sister” organization, Restore Justice Foundation, conducts outreach, engages in research, provides advocacy training, and supports partnerships with other criminal justice reform efforts.
PNAP is a visual arts and humanities project that connects teaching artists and scholars to men at Stateville Maximum Security Prison through classes, workshops and guest lectures. The arts and humanities have always provided essential vocabularies for discussing challenging topics and pushing the boundaries of our thinking. The goal of PNAP is to foster this kind of exploratory thinking with incarcerated people at Stateville, who have a wealth of knowledge and keen perspectives to share about the world around us. In response to the COVID-19 crisis, we are collaborating with Northwestern Prison Education Program (NPEP) and North Park University to raise funds for critical resources and supplies for our students and all those incarcerated at Stateville.
Love & Protect is a volunteer collective that supports criminalized survivors of interpersonal violence who identify as women and gender non-conforming persons of color. While working toward the larger goal of prison abolition, we provide direct support to survivors. We currently support incarcerated survivors by providing monthly commissary funds and letter writing. We also support survivors on the outside who are pre-trial and recently released. As part of our response to the COVID-19 crisis, we have increased the amount of funds we are putting on people's books to ensure they have access to commissary and communication with their loved ones. Through love, through resistance, we protect!
Chicago Books to Women in Prison is an all-volunteer group that distributes paperback books free of charge to incarcerated people nationwide, focusing on all women and trans/non-binary people. We are dedicated to offering the opportunity for self-empowerment, education and entertainment that reading provides. Currently we send books to state prisons in Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi and Ohio, as well as all federal prisons. We do not send books to jails and other short-term facilities outside Chicago.
Liberation Library, founded in February 2015 by Project NIA, is a volunteer-based group in Chicago that provides books to young people in Illinois prisons and juvenile detention centers. We provide books to young readers in all of the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice facilities: IYC Chicago, IYC Harrisburg, IYC Pere Marquette, IYC St. Charles, IYC Warrenville and we also work with jails in multiple counties in Illinois. Once the book is selected, our volunteers write personalized notes to each reader, and the books that the young people receive are theirs to keep. Our model encourages our readers to have choice and ownership in a world where they are often devoid of both.
Uptown People's Law Center (UPLC)
UPLC advocates for prisoners, tenants, and disabled people denied public benefits. Our work focuses on providing legal representation to prisoners denied their basic human rights, tenants facing eviction, and individuals seeking Social Security disability income
At UPLC, we are doing our best to stay up to date on the latest COVID-19 developments at IDOC facilities around the state. If you are in contact with a friend, family member, or other loved one who is currently in IDOC custody and believe that your loved one would be comfortable with you sharing their information with us, please take a moment to fill out this survey.
Black & Pink is an open family of LGBTQ prisoners and “free world” allies who support each other. Our work toward the abolition of the prison industrial complex is rooted in the experience of currently and formerly incarcerated people. We are outraged by the specific violence of the prison industrial complex against LGBTQ people, and respond through advocacy, education, direct service, and organizing.
The Chicago Community Bond Fund (CCBF) pays bond for people charged with crimes in Cook County, Illinois. Through a revolving fund, CCBF supports individuals whose communities cannot afford to pay the bonds themselves and who have been impacted by structural violence. By paying bond, CCBF restores the presumption of innocence before trial and enables recipients to remain free while fighting their cases. CCBF also engages in public education about the role of bond in the criminal legal system and advocates for the abolition of money bond.
The Illinois Prison Project works for a more sensible and humane prison system in Illinois by advocating for and on behalf of thousands of people who are needlessly incarcerated. We provide direct representation to elderly people, disabled and infirm people, and people who have been rehabilitated after substantial periods of incarceration. We work directly with public officials to develop policies and mechanisms to reduce Illinois’ bloated prison system. We work alongside currently and formerly incarcerated people to educate the public about the high cost of Illinois’ prison system, the broken sentencing laws and policies that have led us here, and the many paths for criminal justice reform.
Chicago Votes brings together young, driven Chicagoans who are ready to get their hands dirty and learn the grassroots basics of our democracy. We’re committed to educating, training, and empowering the next generation of Chicagoans and have designed our programs to act as a springboard for young leaders to enter the life of political and public service.
In the fall of 2017, Chicago Votes was asked to be the official sponsor of election activities in the Cook County Jail (CCJ). What started as a voter registration drive once a month has expanded to include in-person election coordination, civic education, local administrative advocacy, and statewide legislative advocacy. Chicago Votes’ CCJ Votes initiative aims to address this disconnect at a systematic level, working at the intersection of organizing and advocacy to ensure that people affected by the criminal justice system know their civic rights and responsibilities.
The Chicago 400 Alliance is an alliance of advocates and public stakeholders seeking to reduce and/or abolish the use of public conviction registries, residency restrictions, and public exclusion zones. The alliance supports and advises the Chicago 400, people subject to the most damaging policies targeting those with past convictions, most who themselves are victims or have exposure to violence. The crisis of homelessness they are in is an expected consequence of our state banishment laws and policies, which only compound the impact of poverty, violence, and racism. The Chicago 400 Alliance aims to build a new united front, where advocates across sectors such as reentry, housing, mental health, addiction, and victim services take a stand against the damaging impact of current practices and urge legislators to abolish policies that sabotage reentry.