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Several years ago, while working at our local Books to Prisoners, I met a volunteer who had formerly worked as a mental health counselor in the local jail. This was just after there had been three jail suicides within a six-month period in 2004. She recalled a time when she worked with the “Crisis Team,” a nationally-recognized mental health program which for 20 years prevented any suicides in the jail. In response to the three suicides, Sheriff Dan Walsh outsourced mental health services to Health Professionals Ltd. (HPL), a private company based in Peoria, Illinois. Yet this has not stopped the loss of life in the jail.
On June 25, at 6 p.m., the Community Justice Task Force will be presenting a final report with its recommendations for the current proposed jail expansion. The meeting will be at Brookens Administration Building (Lierman and Washington St. in east Urbana).
The Task Force has been working for over a year to develop alternatives to the county's original plan to build a multi-million dollar extension of the satellite jail. CUCPJ urges people to attend the session on the 25th and hear what the Task Force recommends. Hopefully their report will provide some concrete ideas for taking the county's criminal justice system in a new direction.
A draft report on the jail by ILPP was released on April 30 and can be read here. Below is a response from CU Citizens for Peace and Justice. A final report from ILPP will come at the end of the summer.
This summer, the City of Champaign will begin the process of demolishing a neighborhood in the north end of the city. Bristol Place, northeast of Bradley and Market and home to nearly 200 residents, has been slated for total demolition by the city because of its low property values, old building stock and a purportedly high rate of crime. The city will use eminent domain to acquire the properties from even those residents who wish to stay in the neighborhood and who own and occupy houses that are in good condition. Although the city has been clear to say that the neighborhood’s total demolition is a settled issue, many questions remain: Why was the neighborhood regarded as obsolete? What’s next for residents? Is this a process that we will see for other low-income, predominately African-American neighborhoods in Champaign?
by Thomas H. Clarke
SPRINGFIELD, IL – The Illinois Senate voted Friday to approve a bill that would allow Illinois residents with serious illnesses to use medical marijuana if their physicians recommend it.
The full Senate voted 35-21 to approve the measure, which received approval from the full House of Representatives on April 17 and now heads to the Governor’s desk for approval.
If Gov. Pat Quinn (D) signs the bill, Illinois will become the 19th or 20th state to legalize medical marijuana in some capacity. Maryland recently passed a bill to establish a medical marijuana program, as well. In addition to Illinois and Maryland, 18 states plus the District of Columbia allow the medical use of marijuana.
On April 17th, as audience members and consultant Dr. Al Kalmanoff talked about criminal justice in Champaign County and the needs assessment Kalmanoff's ILPP is carrying out, ...
Chris drew out this beautiful summary of the meeting on the fly, on page by easel page:
The Champaign County Board is considering a proposal to spend $20 million on new jail cells. They claim the current downtown jail, built in 1980, is beyond repair. The Board plans to pay for the new jail cells from the public safety sales tax which brings in about $4 million per year.
We say the Board, rather than spending $20 million on jail construction, should focus on investing in preventative services that will keep people out of jail and prison, things like youth job training, mental health centers, substance abuse treatment and re-entry programs for people returning home from prison. Click the title to add your name to the growing list of people who support investing in prevention instead of detention.
"To: The Champaign County Board We the undersigned oppose the Champaign County Board's proposal to spend $20 million on new jail cells. We believe the Board should spend this money funding preventative programs that will keep people out of jail and prison."
SIGN THE PETITION NOW: http://org2.salsalabs.com/o/6220/c/1340/p/dia/action3/common/public/?act...
Below is a re-broadcast of a News-Gazette article that appeared recently, covering a new 160-unit housing development to be located in far-west Champaign, where luxurious suburbs have enjoyed the quiet farmland that surrounds them.
The process, or lack of process, in how land is to be governed, used, and accepted is given a rare vetting in the series of comments below the article.
Taking into account the "by-the-way" council action regarding new business developments in the campus core area, there appears a future plan, (created by those who can influence land-use the most,) to establish a central core of trendy, upscale developments.
Following events and proposals for the last several years, we see plans for baseball stadiums, parking garages, hotels, condominiums, urban high-rise apartment living, research parks, another $160 million dollar capital renovation project for a sports arena, retail spaces, and magazine-cover parks and sculptures to be congealing to the center of Champaign-Urbana.
Who will be the main beneficiaries of all these exciting changes?
On Wednesday, April 17, there will be a meeting with Dr. Alan Kalmanoff at 6:15 p.m. at the Urbana Free Library (210 W. Green St.).
Dr. Kalmanoff is the Director of the Institute for Law and Public Policy (ILPP), the firm hired by Champaign County to conduct a needs assessment regarding the county jail and related criminal justice issues. Dr. Kalmanoff has been interviewing people and gathering data for his assessment since November. This meeting will be an opportunity to hear some of his findings and to present your concerns to him in person. Come and be heard!
URBANA TEEN GETS JUVENILE PRISON FOR AGGRAVATED BATTERY
As a new building on campus is being named after Maudelle Bousfield, the first African American woman to graduate from the University of Illinois, a public housing complex named after Joann Dorsey, black community activist in Champaign during the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, has been torn down. One woman came from the black upper-class, the other from the working-class, yet they both should be recognized for their contributions.
Pioneer Educator, Maudelle Bousfield
BLOOMINGTON, Ill. -- Bloomington has a new interim Police Chief.
The city announced that retired Champaign Police Chief R.T. Finney will serve in that position until a permanent replacement is found.
Finney also served as interim Chief for East Peoria during a portion if 2012.
Starting Monday, Finney takes the spot of current Interim Chief Clay Wheeler, who is headed to Virginia for previously planned training with the FBI.
Former Chief Randy McKinley left the city as Chief of Police to take another position in ST. Charles, Missouri.
There's not much I can count on in the News-Gazette, but I can count on our faithful paper carrier to deliver the local fishwrap, as it arrives even on days like this. That said, there's little else that I can take at face value, other than the paper's decisions about how they carry the news. Today, that was encapsulated in a front page story about potential prison crowding because of the state's inability to come to grips with obeying the Constitution and a 3rd page article on medical marijuana.
In a longish article in the middle of the front page, various state and local officials bemoan the fact that a bill to increase sentences for unlawful use of weapons (UUW) could lead to further prison overcrowding. That in a state that found itself so embarassed by prison conditions it banned all journalists from the prison system. It's not until the end of the article that a couple of terse, brief paragraphs note that Illinois, as the ONLY state without a process or right to concealed carry, has well under 180 days at this point to pass a law to govern and eprmit such licenses under order from the feds.
Immigration. Yes. Chicago Youth Violence. Yes. Education. Yes.
On this spoken word project titled ILL POETS SOCIETY, six (6) poets from across the great state of Illinois were brought together to expound on the modern day issues facing America. The crown jewel of this project is a spoken word piece titled "Chi City Youth" by Jazmine McKinney. From the outset, she captivates audiences with her wordplay as she expresses the grief in her soul for her family, friends and community. To download the album for free, visit www.TheShow1045.com.
The film is available for checkout at local public libraries and cultural centers within the Champaign-Urbana community. This project was funded by SORF and supported in part by a City of Urbana Arts Grant.
In a recent news-article in The News-Gazette, N-G reporter, Tim Mitchell was given an interview with U of I Police Detective Tim Hetrick about surveillance cameras on campus. Since 2008, the number of cameras placed on campus has grown from 13 to 1,100 by the end of this year. Below are italicized experts from the article and in bold type are the questions the use of these cameras raise. The lack of depth reporter Mitchell chose to explore the issue indicates a real need for other journalists to gain access to government officials. Please consider getting involved with independent media.
You can access the entire article here: http://www.news-gazette.com/news/courts-police-and-fire/2013-03-17/ui-uses-hundreds-cameras-investigate-crime-more-way.html
WHO'S THE HAPPIER PERSON? WHO IS SAVING THE WORLD MORE?
Below is a re-broadcast of a recent column written by a local columnist who goes by the Name,"Penteller." While the topic is not normal newsfare, the points raised are an intriguing theory, and few columnists ever attempt to see the forest through the trees quite like Penteller.
As appeared on The News-Gazette website ( www.news-gazette.com )
Sat, 02/23/2013 - 5:22pm | Penteller
These two community dialogues will address what even the Obama administration has admitted is a failed War on Drugs. It is also part of our local campaign to oppose a proposal for an expansion of the local jail, which is full of victims of the Drug War.
Thursday, Feb. 28, Levis Faculty Center (919 W. Illinois St., Urbana)
Friday night, March 1, Salem Baptist Church (500 E. Park St., Champaign)
5:30-8:30 p.m. both nights
Neill Franklin, former narcotics officer and executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP).
Clifford Thornton, anti-Drug War activist and co-founder of Efficacy.
Organized by Citizens with Conviction (CWC), and Champaign-Urbana Citizens for Peace and Justice (CUCPJ).
Co-sponsors: Salem Baptist Church, Urbana Human Relations Committee, MAS (Muslim American Society), UC Friends Meeting, ACLU, Breakfast Club, GEO, Planners Network, Educations Justice Project, U of I Department of African American Studies.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE