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An explanation of UPLC's new Road to Access program, which helps our clients with transportation to important appointments to help them qualify for Social Security benefits.

UPLC has been fighting gentrification in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago for over 40 years.

How did UPLC come to do prisoners' rights work?

A bit of UPLC history, explaining why we continue to do tenants' rights work in Uptown today.

The horrifying story behind our lawsuit on behalf of Jane Doe, who was sexually assaulted at Illinois' Logan prison.

An overview of our report Cruel and Usual: An Investigation into Prison Abuse at USP Thomson, detailing horrific physical and sexual assaults, as well as emotional cruelty, racism, and other civil rights violations.

Illinois Department of Corrections' director has stepped down; UPLC Executive Director Alan Mills reviews his tenure.

Illinois prisons are toxic, and the water prisoners are forced to drink is unsafe.

The tap water at Stateville has been dangerous for decades.

A coalition of prisoner advocate groups demonstrated Thursday outside the Illinois State building in the West Loop.

They call the lack of quality water in prisons “inhumane”.

A federal monitor says substandard healthcare persists—with horrific consequences—more than a decade after a lawsuit was supposed to compel changes.

Marcia Fudge, secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, recently announced the agency is launching a six-month investigation of housing denials based on criminal records in federally subsidized housing. The goal is to establish policies and measures to prevent automatic denials based on an arrest or conviction unless the housing provider can provide evidence of a legitimate safety concern.

Illinois prison and health officials made misleading and inconsistent statements about a Legionella outbreak at several Illinois prisons last month, according to records and interviews with incarcerated people. Advocates and prison watchdogs say the inconsistencies highlight long-standing problems with accountability and oversight of the prison system’s water treatment practices.

Community members are condemning the Illinois Department of Corrections for housing people in unsafe conditions after Legionella bacteria was found in five state prisons last month, with some expressing concern that state officials have misled the public about the extent of the contamination.

Last week, officials in Illinois reported that they had detected legionella bacteria, which can cause Legionnaires’ disease, a potentially fatal type of pneumonia, in the water at two state prisons. The contaminated water was discovered during routine quarterly testing at Stateville Correctional Center and Joliet Treatment Center, according to a statement from the Illinois Department of Corrections and the Illinois Department of Public Health. The agencies said nobody is exhibiting symptoms of the disease.

Prisoners at an Illinois Department of Corrections facility deal with rodents, insects and other unsanitary conditions in cells, bathrooms and the kitchen, according to a lawsuit filed this month by a man against officials with the intake facility in Crest Hill.

Prisoners at an Illinois Department of Corrections facility in Joliet suffer through nightmare living conditions, with rat-infested cells, rotten food and raw sewage overflowing into common areas, a lawsuit says.

Prisoners at an Illinois Department of Corrections intake facility are living among mice, rats, roaches and other insects, have seen feces in the kitchen and are forced to eat rotten food among other issues, according to a lawsuit filed this week by a detainee at the far southwest Crest Hill facility.

I write today to oppose HB 5072 (Manley). This bill seeks to make it a criminal offense to have sex or masturbate in any penal institution. In addition, anyone convicted two or more times under this law would be required to register as a sex offender.

Hundreds of inmates and staff members within Illinois prisons are currently positive for COVID-19, according to the latest IDOC data available online.

A decade after Illinois Department of Corrections inmate Anthony Rodesky began developing the blisters that would eventually lead to a below-the-knee leg amputation, a federal jury in Peoria last week awarded him $400,000, finding the state violated the Americans with Disabilities Act in its treatment of Rodesky’s type 1 diabetes.

At a Georgia state House of Representatives hearing on prison conditions in September, a corrections officer called in to testify, interrupting his shift to tell lawmakers how dire conditions had become.

The standoff between Chicago police and Mayor Lori Lightfoot over the city’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate once again hoisted Chicago onto the national stage, seemingly pitting the individual rights of law enforcement officers against the health of communities they’re charged with protecting.

More than a decade has passed since incarcerated people filed a class action lawsuit accusing the Illinois Department of Corrections of failing to provide adequate medical care to people in custody. But health care in the state’s prisons still falls short, and the department isn’t moving quickly enough to fix the myriad problems, according to a new report from an independent monitor.

Brian Willis grew up in Park Manor, near 69th Street and King Drive on the South Side. He’s been incarcerated for 25 years and is currently serving a life sentence for murder at Stateville Correctional Center in Crest Hill, Ill.

Five years after a class action lawsuit found Illinois’ mental health care for inmates in the Department of Corrections unconstitutional, an independent court monitor found that the same problems still exist.

These include an inappropriate use of solitary confinement, failing to properly manage medication, failing to provide adequate treatment plans and extended “crisis watches.”

Christopher Knox already had a long history of living with mental illness when he was sentenced to time in an Illinois prison. He has had a litany of diagnoses, including bipolar disorder and PTSD, and a history of self-harm going back to when he was just 7 years old. When he was locked inside prison at age 19, his mental health deteriorated. He lashed out at a fellow prisoner and he said he was sent to solitary where he was in a cell 23 hours a day, seven days a week.

Recently, Governor Pritzker announced that all staff working in Illinois prisons will have to be vaccinated for COVID-19 by mid-October. Sadly, rather than engaging with the governor, AFSCME, the guards' union, immediately announced that it was opposed to any requirement that staff be vaccinated. The union instead proposed that it will continue to educate staff, in the hope that more staff will agree to vaccinate voluntarily.

The undersigned organizations fully support the governor's mandate regarding vaccinations for prison staff...

The United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois certified all 28,000+ state prisoners to be part of a class Monday in a class action lawsuit challenging IDOC's excessive use of solitary confinement.

Prisons and their surrounding communities would be safer. And a dangerous backlog of people in county jails awaiting transfer would be reduced.

On June 15, 2021, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois certified a class action challenging the constitutionality of the excessive use of extreme isolation (various forms of solitary confinement) by the Illinois Department of Corrections ("IDOC). The Court certified a class of all state prisoners (over 28,000) represented by Winston & Strawn LLP and the Uptown People's Law Center. Accordingly, the ruling expands the case from the six named plaintiffs to a class of all state prisoners seeking declaratory and injunctive relief against the IDOC's policies and procedures resulting to the excessive use of extreme isolation.

The latest report on health care in Illinois state prisons (PDF) was released to the public earlier this month. This report was created by Dr. John Raba, an independent, court-appointed monitor, as a result of the class action lawsuit Lippert v. Jeffreys, brought by ACLU of Illinois, Uptown People's Law Center, and Dentons. This lawsuit alleged that the health care provided to prisoners in the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) is unconstitutional, and was settled in January 2019.

As COVID-19 vaccination distribution has expanded across the country, incarcerated people remain one of the populations that is both most vulnerable to COVID-19 and most distrustful of medical care, according to several legal advocacy organizations.

Isolated in solitary confinement as the pandemic swept through Illinois prisons, inmates diagnosed with mental illness are beyond the breaking point, setting fire to their cells and harming themselves after more than a year without adequate mental health care.

After spending 22 years in solitary confinement, Anthony Gay is trying to make sure no other prisoner in Illinois has to experience the same level of trauma that he went through.

For the last 12 years of his three-decade prison sentence, Brian Nelson spent 23 hours a day in solitary confinement.

For more than a decade after he was released, Nelson became an advocate for incarcerated people and sought to reform Illinois’ criminal justice system. The job included reading and answering thousands of letters from prisoners and recounting the horror of his stay in solitary for legislators, including before the Senate.

Brian Nelson was haunted by his experience of being locked in solitary confinement for 23 years in Illinois prisons.

After he was freed in 2010, he dedicated his life to helping other inmates.

The Just Housing Amendment is a law that was put in place to prohibit housing discrimination against people in Cook County who have a criminal record.

As millions of Illinoisans are still waiting for their chance to be vaccinated against COVID-19, and even those who are eligible are scrambling for appointments, at least one group is largely giving up its place at the front of the vaccine line: people who work in Illinois prisons.

As millions of Illinoisans are still waiting for their chance to be vaccinated against COVID-19, and even those who are eligible are scrambling for appointments, at least one group is largely giving up its place at the front of the vaccine line: people who work in Illinois prisons.

More than 1,000 prisoners in Illinois are set to be released after a lawsuit settlement aimed at protecting medically vulnerable prisoners from COVID-19.

The Illinois Department of Corrections will identify medically vulnerable and elderly prisoners eligible for early release or electronic home monitoring.

COVID-19 cases are ticking back upward across Chicago and the rest of Illinois even as vaccine supply improves, the top doctors from the city and state warned Tuesday.

Infections have increased about 23% in Chicago over the past week, mostly among people age 18 to 40, according to city Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady.

More than 1,000 medically vulnerable or elderly inmates in Illinois prisons are set to be released following a settlement agreement in a lawsuit brought last spring against the head of the Illinois Department of Corrections and Gov. J.B. Pritzker, which claimed they weren’t doing enough to protect against COVID-19.

After a deadly second wave of the coronavirus pandemic in Illinois prisons sickened thousands of workers and inmates, the state will begin vaccinating both groups in the coming week — a plan that drew praise from advocates but provoked the ire of some lawmakers who argue criminals should not be prioritized.

People incarcerated in Illinois will be among those vaccinated against coronavirus during the next phase, according to a newly released state plan.

People incarcerated in jails and prisons will be prioritized for vaccines along with people who are 65 and older, certain essential workers and people experiencing homelessness or residing in shelters, according to the plan released Dec. 31 by the state health department. They’ll all be given access to vaccines during the next phase, know as Phase 1B.

Whilst staff at veterans' homes, nursing homes, hospitals and sundry health care facilities balk at getting vaccinated – let-me-think-about-it rates for doctors, nurses and other frontline health care workers are as high as 40 percent nationwide – the state of Illinois has decided that while doses remain scarce, prisoners and the homeless who reside in shelters or frequent day centers are on par with the elderly (75 or older) and "frontline essential workers" who will be second in line after health care workers.

COVID-19 hospitalizations at Illinois corrections department leave incarcerated peoples’ loved ones with questions

Dozens of legal and community advocacy groups signed an open letter Monday urging the Illinois Department of Public Health to prioritize incarcerated individuals and staff working in jails and prisons in its COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

As a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic spread rapidly through Illinois prisons this fall, 73-year-old Watson Gray made another plea to be released from Dixon Correctional Center, where new infections were rising.

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