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The Illinois Department of Corrections recently published proposed regulations which take some important steps towards reducing the harm done to those held in solitary confinement in Illinois prisons. However, the regulations continue to allow solitary far in excess of the 15-day maximum permitted under international law, and fail to address many of the inhumane conditions in…

Introductory Note: On March 23, 2017, I represented Reuben Taylor before Illinois’ Prisoner Review Board (our version of a parole board). After lengthy discussion, the Board voted 6-8 to deny Mr. Taylor parole. Emblematic of the feeling of several members of the Board was a statement made by Mr. Johnson explaining his vote. He stated…

The headline from a recent Pantagraph article screams, “Prosecutor files 14 cases against inmates in Pontiac incidents.” This is misleading and announces a terrible policy. Why is the headline misleading? It sounds like the Livingston County State’s Attorney held a press conference to announce that he had just filed a slew of new cases against…

Yesterday, I traveled to Springfield to attend a meeting of JCAR to consider regulations proposed by the Illinois Department of Corrections, about changes in the way Illinois keeps people in solitary confinement in its prisons. Between 6am and the time I arrived, the meeting time had been changed, so I missed the meeting. While I…

Recently, I visited with a man named Lamont, a prisoner at Menard Correctional Center. He’s 34 years old and grew up in Chicago. Lamont is Black. Lamont was first diagnosed with a serious mental illness at the age of 10. As a child, he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and depression. He…

Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting with Amy. She is an extremely pleasant young woman, and a joy to talk with. We chatted about what we were reading, how we spent our day, family—all of the things you talk about with your friends every day. But this conversation was different: Amy is a…

Earlier this week, I celebrated my 60th birthday. As we get older, our friends tend to get older too, and inevitably we start attending more funerals. Last night, I went to a memorial service for Melvin Haywood. Next week, I will go to a funeral for Ra Chaka. Over the last few weeks, I have followed…

I am appalled, saddened, and angered by the vote this week by the Chicago City Council to give $16 million in taxpayer money to subsidize a luxury high-rise development on the site of the old Cuneo Hospital/Maryville Hospital in Uptown. This $16 million TIF will divert much-needed money from Chicago’s schools and parks over the…

The US spends billions of dollars locking human beings in cages. We imprison more people than any other country in the history of the Earth. Over 2 million people are in prison in this country on any given day. We have a higher rate of incarceration than any other country on earth. We lock up…

Today, I saw Patrice Daniels at Stateville Correctional Center. I have been visiting prisoners at Stateville (located near Joliet, about an hour south of Chicago) for the last 35 years. Over the last year, I have visited with scores of seriously mentally ill prisoners. Today’s visit with Patrice was the most difficult, infuriating visit I…

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