In the News

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"Across the country, thousands of incarcerated people face sexual harassment, abuse and assault, frequently at the hands of staff. In the face of these attacks -- and the reality of retaliation -- incarcerated people have come forward to file complaints and lawsuits, fighting back against system-wide abuse."

The Cook County Board will soon hear a proposed resolution to investigate the impact of bail reform in the county. The proposal is in response to Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart’s recent misguided letter to Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, advising her that he would not comply with court orders freeing people in jail on bond.

A mother is suing Illinois and Sangamon County officials for failing to prevent her daughter's suicide.

"A transgender woman has filed an emergency order in federal court to stop alleged abuse and harassment by Illinois Department Of Corrections guards."

"The publisher of a newsletter about the criminal justice system filed a lawsuit this week against the Illinois Department of Corrections alleging that multiple state prisons barred inmates from receiving all or part of several publications."

Chicago Tiny House Inc., the newest of a half-dozen organizations trying to bring the little homes here, held a fund-raiser on January 26 in Uptown.

"Lawyers are seeking a federal court order of protection for a transgender prison inmate who is alleged to have been sexually assaulted for the entertainment of prison guards." -CBS Chicago

"Rather than just leave the former tent city residents alone after forcing their eviction from the Lake Shore Drive viaducts, police instituted a policy of repeated evictions, not allowing them to erect tents or tarps anywhere on public property in Chicago, leaving them at great risk of harm as the city's cold and wet season hits." - Windy City Times

"We dehumanize people when we put them into prisons and jails, we artificially isolate them from any legitimate sexual outlet, and it therefore causes people do things they wouldn't otherwise do," says Alan Mills, a civil rights attorney who's represented incarcerated Illinoisans in a variety of lawsuits.

"Advocates say Illinois’ treatment of prisoners with mental illness is so bad — the prison system is in a “state of emergency.” They’re asking a federal judge to intervene." - Peoria Public Radio

"Attorneys representing some 12,000 mentally ill inmates filed a motion Tuesday asking a federal judge to require Illinois Department of Corrections enforce a 2015 settlement agreement reached in the case of Rasho v. Baldwin." - WTTW

"It makes a lot more sense to treat their mental illness in prison than to wait until they are back living in the community, by which time the effects of incarceration may have only made matters worse." - Chicago Sun Times

Ripper Crew member to join others incarcerated past their parole dates due to housing issues
Ripper Crew member to join others incarcerated past their parole dates due to housing issues

"Inmates who are released after their parole has expired may pose more of a threat to the public in comparison to those who were able to transition into society on parole with monitoring and other conditions." - Chicago Tribune

"UPTOWN — Activists are demanding that an alderman find a place for the homeless to erect their tents after tent city residents were evicted from Uptown's viaducts." -DNAinfo Chicago

"Several dozen people gathered outside the office of Ald. James Cappleman (46th) on Monday night to protest what they blasted as unfair treatment of homeless people and the acceleration of gentrification." -Chicagoist

"Uptown Peoples Law Center Executive Director Alan Mills discusses his lawsuit on behalf of homeless people trying to stop their displacement from a Chicago tent city." - Legal Face Off

"It was that sort of morning Monday for residents of the two dozen or so tents lining Wilson Avenue near North Clarendon, as city workers moved in to dismantle their encampment." - Chicago Sun Times

"Calling home from prison is cumbersome and expensive. For deaf people behind bars, it’s even tougher, sometimes impossible." -The Marshall Project

"Some of the Chicago’s homeless in Uptown were once again displaced by the city Monday morning, after officials told members of the community they had to pack their tents and belongings and move from a parkway to make way for a construction project." - Chicagoist

"The city of Chicago cleared out what was left of the former homeless encampments under Lake Shore Drive in Uptown on Monday morning and required residents to leave a nearby parkway, while advocates abandoned their attempts in court to block the city from starting construction on the crumbling structures." - Chicago Tribune

"Illinois Department of Corrections officials Thursday showed off what will soon be the state's largest residential facility for mentally ill inmates." - The Chicago Tribune

"A federal judge will rule Friday on whether the dozens of homeless residents living in tents under crumbling viaducts in the Uptown neighborhood will be displaced because of a construction project set to begin Monday." -Chicago Tribune

"The (city) wants people to disappear, to be hidden away in corners," said Alan Mills, an attorney with Uptown People's Law Center who is representing Uptown Tent City Organizers and the residents. "Find housing for these people and we'll go away." - Chicago Tribune

"Illinois prison inmates with serious mental illnesses will soon receive hospital-level care as the Department of Corrections puts the finishing touches on the 44-bed Elgin Treatment Center, the first facility to offer such intensive care to state prisoners who have previously been treated inside prison walls." - The Pantagraph

"In the moments after a confrontation with prison guards left inmate Terrance Jenkins unresponsive, the paramedics trying to save his life made a troubling discovery: five small, crumpled balls of what looked like notebook paper lodged in his throat, blocking his airway." - Chicago Tribune

"A group seeking to operate a tent city for homeless people on a pedestrian mall in Uptown is embroiled in a legal battle with the city of Chicago over its plans." - Cook County Record

“If someone has a broken arm and you let them suffer, that’s really no different than putting them on the rack and stretching them,” said Alan Mills, one of the lead attorneys on the suit. “If conditions cause treatable pain and there is a failure to treat the causes of that pain, then that’s punishment for no good penological reason.” - The Atlantic

"A group of Illinois prison inmates will be allowed to move forward with their class action suit claiming health care provided to inmates in the Illinois Department of Corrections violates constitutional standards." - Cook County Record

"Willis was forced into solitary confinement, a practice about 2,000 inmates are currently subjected to within the Illinois Department of Corrections, according to Alan Mills, executive director of Uptown People’s Law Center." - Columbia Chronicle

"A family attorney says the woman who died in a Springfield area hospital after being found unresponsive in the Sangamon County Jail should have been getting mental health treatment." -News Channel 20

"For the last several years, Fields has been held in solitary confinement at Menard Correctional Center in southern Illinois. The practice, which international standards define as the physically-isolated incarceration of individuals in a cell for 22-24 hours per day, constitutes a form of torture according to a recent report from a committee of the United Nations Human Rights Council." - People's World

"In a city where fewer than 1 percent of people in police custody are visited by an attorney, a judge’s order will help the poor access a free lawyer while at the police station." - Huffington Post

"A mentally ill inmate at Pontiac Correctional Center will be allowed to move forward with his federal claims against two doctors he accuses of sending him to segregation in retaliation for making complaints against prison staff." - The Pantagraph

"Despite the lack of a state budget and a slow response to employment ads looking for hundreds of new workers, the Illinois Department of Corrections is making progress in its efforts to improve conditions for 11,000 mentally ill prisoners, according to reports provided Friday in federal court." - The Pantagraph

"A settlement in a federal lawsuit challenging Illinois' parole revocation process will mean legal assistance for many parolees at risk to return to prison if they are unable to defend themselves against alleged parole violations." - The Pantagraph

"Former Illinois inmates accused of violating their paroles and unable to afford an attorney now have a better chance of receiving a fair hearing — and legal counsel — during parole revocation hearings." - Chicago Sun Times

"In Illinois, there is a notorious band of guards called the "Orange Crush" who don orange jumpsuits, body armor and riot helmets to conceal their identity. They carry large clubs and canisters of pepper spray, which they use liberally. A recent lawsuit names a list of horrific abuses that includes strip searches, beatings and mass shakedowns of cells." - TruthOut

"The Illinois Department of Corrections on Wednesday announced most of its workers have completed mental-illness training. It's part of the settlement in a long-running legal dispute over how Illinois prisons treat inmates with mental-heath disorders." - NPR Illinois

"A settlement in a federal lawsuit will mean major changes in the state's parole revocation process, including the appointment of lawyers for many of more than 8,000 former inmates sent back to prison each year for violating their parole." - The Pantagraph

"The Department of Corrections announced Friday it will take over a section of a state-run mental health hospital in Elgin as a ward for prisoners with mental illness." - Northern Public Radio

“Mainstream media seem more interested in covering crime committed by Black people rather than what happens to them afterward,' says attorney Alan Mills of the Uptown People’s Law Center, the lead attorney representing incarcerated plaintiffs in a class action suit against the Illinois Department of Corrections." - Chicago Defender

"Illinois has reached an inter-agency agreement that will allow some of the state’s most severely mentally ill inmates to be treated in an inpatient facility within the Elgin Mental Health Center." - Chicago Sun Times

"A DuPage County man has agreed to a $450,000 settlement with state prison officials to end his claim that staff unjustly punished him five years ago after he reported his cellmate had repeatedly raped him, lawyers announced Friday." - Chicago Tribune

"The Illinois Department of Correction has agreed to pay $450,000 to James Fontano after he was allegedly "punished and humiliated by prison officials" after reporting his cellmate had sexually and physically assaulted him, his attorneys said in a prepared statement." - DNAinfo Chicago

"Illinois prisons are in crisis. They are among the most overcrowded, understaffed and underfunded in the nation- but Gov. Bruce Rauner established himself as a barrier to serious reform." - Chicago Tribune

"When Daletha Hayden arrived at California's Pelican Bay State Prison on Valentine's Day weekend, she expected to visit her son Ian Whitson with a glass window separating them. That was how they had spent each and every one of their visits over the past seven years after Whitson had been labeled a "gang associate" and placed in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) in 2009. There, he was confined to his cell for at least 23 hours each day." - TruthOut

"An eight-year federal court battle to overhaul mental health treatment in Illinois prisons was resolved Friday with a judge ruling that the settlement between inmates and the state, while not perfect, is fair and will improve the lives of thousands of inmates." - The Pantagraph

"In this April 21, 2016 photo, Brian Nelson, right, prisoners' rights coordinator, and Alan Mills, executive director of the Uptown People's Law Center, look at photos of Nelson's former cell at Illinois' Menard Correctional Center. Nelson served years in prison for armed robbery and murder, many of which were in solitary." - The Southern Illinoisan

"SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Brian Nelson’s years in solitary confinement left him terrified of other people, and he says he can still taste the concrete dust from his cell, even though he’s been free since 2010." - AP News

"Recently obtained footage from a surveillance camera inside Cook County Jail shows a burly guard repeatedly punching and kicking a prisoner in the head, even after the prisoner is knocked to the ground and curls up on the floor." - Chicago Sun Times

"Birds have apparently made a mess at the Stateville Correctional Center – and the Illinois Department of Corrections needs somebody to clean up the mess." - The Herald-News

"On Nov. 19, 2014, the door clanged shut behind David Sesson and Bernard Simmons. Sesson put his hands through the food slot to have his handcuffs removed." - NPR News

"New legislation in Springfield would repeal the practice of suing prisoners and parolees for the cost of their incarceration." - Chicagoist

"State lawmakers are seeking to end a little-known but controversial program that tries to recoup the costs of incarceration from current and former inmates, saying the state recovers little money and the program puts up obstacles for prisoners returning to the community." - Chicago Tribune

"They are an elite, mobile Illinois Department of Corrections tactical unit, which civil rights lawyers say regularly humiliated and terrorized more than a thousand Illinois inmates on various occasions using tactics such as forcing them to march naked in single-file, tight formations, causing men’s genitals to press against the buttocks of men in front of them." - Belleville News-Democrat

"Bernadette Rabuy is the Policy & Communications Associate at the Prison Policy Initiative. Bernadette's research has focused on prison and jail visitation and making key criminal justice data accessible to the public." - The Real News

"People held in Illinois prisons will receive an improved level of mental health care in coming years, thanks to a major class action settlement in late December." - Solitary Watch

"Eisha Love's Dec. 18 release after spending three years and nine months in Cook County Jail's all-male Division IX without trial led to a number of unanswered questions regarding the attempted murder in the first degree charges that were initially leveled against her." - Windy City Times

"Alan Mills, an attorney working for the mental health rights of Illinois prison inmates, recalled being shocked by the condition of such an inmate he visited at Menard Correctional Center." - The Pantagraph

"The number of inmates in solitary confinement in the State of New York hit a three-year high this past September — over 4,000 prisoners. Prisons blame reform for this increase; the number of non-violent prisoners is slowly dwindling because of formal decarceration efforts and the inmates left behind are a group much more likely to be violent. They’re fighting the guards and themselves and getting tossed in the hole." - Huffington Post

"The Illinois Department of Corrections is bringing a small but increasing number of lawsuits against inmates to recoup the cost of their imprisonment with an intention to help fund operations." - St. Louis Post

"A new report on Illinois policy of suing former inmates to recoup incarceration costs highlights a common practice across the US, as at least 43 states allow 'room and board' or medical fees to be collected from inmates in state or county prisons." - RT

Illinois is ratcheting up lawsuits against inmates to pay for their room and board
Illinois is ratcheting up lawsuits against inmates to pay for their room and board

"The state of Illinois has been pursuing lawsuits against its own inmates to pay for their room and board, the Chicago Tribune reports." - Fusion

"The $31,690 Johnny Melton received to settle a lawsuit over his mother's death was going to help him start life anew after prison.
But before he was released, after 15 months in prison for a drug conviction, the Illinois Department of Corrections sued Melton and won nearly $20,000 to cover the cost of his incarceration." - Chicago Tribune

"Alan Mills, executive director of Uptown People's Law Center in Chicago, told Truthout that in Illinois the lack of Black leaders in positions of political power made "it politically cost-free to call for 'tough-on-crime' measures - as long as the police concentrate enforcement in poor Black communities." He argues this created a "perfect feedback loop." - TruthOut

"Almost 200 individuals experiencing homelessness and their advocates marched on 46th Ward Ald. James Cappleman's Uptown home and, then, his office Nov. 9 to protest what organizers called "an apparent campaign to drive [homeless] people out of Uptown." - Windy City Times

"When Jerome Jones was placed in solitary confinement in 2013 at the Lawrence Correctional Center, no one told him why. In fact, he says he wasn’t given a reason until six months after the fact — when officials alleged at an administrative hearing that it was because of his gang associations. But Jones, who is currently still being held in solitary, says he is not a gang member." - Al Jazeera

"A federal judge has granted class action status for a lawsuit filed in 2011 on behalf of 11 deaf and hard of hearing inmates at the Illinois Department of Corrections alleging systemic failures by the department to provide critical accommodations as required by law." - The Southern Illinoisan

"Two experts are touring several Illinois prisons this week to review mental health care and the use of segregation as part of a federal lawsuit on the state's treatment of mentally ill prisoners." - The Pantagraph

"A federal judge ruled that a lawsuit accusing a former acting director of the Illinois Department of Corrections of failing to provide accommodations to deaf and hard-of-hearing prisoners can go to trial as a class-action suit." - Chicago Tribune

"Uptown People’s Law Center, Illinois Coalition Against Torture, United Voices for Prisoners and Black & Pink Chicago gathered with community members, former prisoners and their families to host a rally at the Thompson Center July 23 to protest the opening of the Thompson Correctional Center, which has 1,500 solitary cells." - Atlanta Daily World

"For 23 hours a day, a roughly five-by-ten-foot concrete box is what Aaron Fillmore calls home. He’s been living in a room like that for the past 15 years." - Illinois Times

Horrific health care
Horrific health care

"When Rubin Watts arrived at the Dixon Correctional Center infirmary in 2007, his legs and feet were red and swollen, with stinking open wounds that were oozing pus and a bloody discharge. He had a skin infection called cellulitis and a history of mental illness." - Illinois Times

"A class action lawsuit filed this week on behalf of former and current inmates is challenging the widespread use of solitary confinement by the Illinois Department of Corrections." - Chicago Reporter

"By the time he had served five years for armed robbery, Mark had lost 80 pounds. He had developed a new tic — tightly closing his eyes, as if blinking back bad thoughts. But the biggest change, his mother said, was in his face. It had hardened. A deep crease ran along the bridge of his nose." - The Marshall Project

"In prison, Brian Nelson lived in solitary confinement. That meant 23 hours a day in a small cell. No human contact, except with guards — for 12 years straight." - NPR

"Unqualified staff and inadequate care have contributed to some 60 percent of non-violent deaths in Illinois prisons, according to a new report released Wednesday." - Chicagoist

"Scathing independent report finds sweeping problems in health care at state's prisons." - Chicago Tribune

"The 55-year-old inmate with a family history of lung cancer was coughing up blood the day he arrived at the medium security Illinois River prison in November 2012." - Chicago Tribune

'Sentenced: Architecture and Human Rights' Opens Thursday
'Sentenced: Architecture and Human Rights' Opens Thursday

"A collaborative effort between Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility (ADPSR) and Uptown People’s Law Center (UPLC), the exhibit aims to show the conditions of solitary confinement, the damage it does on prisoners and to “bring voices of imprisoned people into the dialogue of the struggle to end cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment in the United States.” - Chicagoist

"On May 1, 2010, the medical technician making the morning rounds at Stateville prison in Illinois allegedly denied Donald Lippert, a type I diabetic, his shot of insulin. Lippert’s blood sugar shot up, and after growing dizzy, he collapsed onto the floor of his cell and urinated on himself. According to a grievance he filed with the prison, Lippert’s glucose level was a staggering 451 when nurses arrived around lunchtime. The average range is between 70 and 180." - The Marshall Project

Dear Mom, you have 30 days to get out
Dear Mom, you have 30 days to get out

"Miguel Pena is asking a Cook County judge to evict his elderly mother from the Gage Park home they shared for many years." - Chicago Sun Times

Chateau Hotel: Remaining Tenants Have Until Friday to Vacate
Chateau Hotel: Remaining Tenants Have Until Friday to Vacate

"The few tenants who remain in the Chateau Hotel have until Friday to leave after a judge's ruling last week." - DNAinfo

"A lawsuit over health care in prisons in Illinois is getting a boost from the American Civil Liberties Union. The federal class action lawsuit charges the Department of Corrections and Wexford Health Sources, a private healthcare company, with providing wholly inadequate health care to inmates." - WBEZ

"This place is one hundred times better than Tamms," a prisoner in the Pontiac Correctional Center told me in a recent letter. "I was able to purchase a regular Bic ink pen and a regular-size toothbrush." - Chicago Reader

Alan Mills, legal director, Uptown People's Law Center
Alan Mills, legal director, Uptown People's Law Center

"In the late 60s, as the coal mines in Appalachia were closing down, there was a huge migration from the coalfields to Chicago. As they got older, they began to have problems from black lung disease. They applied for disability benefits, and were told by the Social Security offices, 'There are no coal miners in Chicago. Go back to Appalachia.' They wanted to get health care, and they were told, 'We don't know anything about black lung. That's a problem in the south." - Chicago Reader

  • Kenneth & Harle Montgomery Foundation