Getting to the Heart of the Issue: The Proposal for a $32 Million Jail

Shasta Knox, a.k.a. “Klevah” [pictured right] ,an emcee at the center of a burgeoning hip hop movement in Urbana-Champaign, performed at a public forum about the broken criminal justice system. “It spoke directly to my heart,” she told me afterwards, “to see so many people passionate about something that affected me personally for most of my life.”

She revealed that when she was young her own mother was incarcerated. The years in prison did nothing to address her mother’s problems. “So much time that is wasted,” she said, “and families can literally be destroyed by this.”

Chicago Prosecutor Seeks to Lessen Marijuana Penalties: How About It, Ms. Reitz?

Low-level Class 4 felony drug offences, including for cannabis, represent 25% of the Cook County felony caseload. Besides being a complete waste of time -- any other gov't program with so little to show in terms of results would have been shut down years ago -- the cost of these pointless prosecutions is basically padding to argue for bigger budgets. With Gov. Rauner putting everything in government spending on the chopping block -- supposedly there is no better place to start with than policies the public does NOT support, that have demonstrated decades of failure, and that basically amount to a jobs program for politically connected insiders. This is a good first step, but the legislature should impose this significant first step in cutting the pork at the courthouse on a statewide basis by simply revising state law to take these realities into account. For cannabis, it should ***at a minimum*** be decriminalized. In a state run by the Democratic Party for years, it is nonsensical that cannabis has yet to be decriminalized as in so many other states.


Need Bigger Jail? Think Again...Incarceration’s Front Door: The Misuse of Jails in America

The idea that Champaign County needs a bigger jail just won't go away. In fact, they should quit wasting taxpayer funds on what is basically a talking point for judges and prosecutors to get re-elected, but which makes for expensive, ineffective social policy as a debtor's prison. The present jail is more than large enough to hold those who need to be there versus those who simply can't afford to post bail, are mentally ill, etc and end up there despite being no threat to the public.

Jails Have Become Warehouses for the Poor, Ill and Addicted, a Report Says

by Timothy Williams

Jails across the country have become vast warehouses made up primarily of people too poor to post bail or too ill with mental health or drug problems to adequately care for themselves, according to a report issued Wednesday.

Reclaiming MLK's Radical Roots

'History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.' -- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.CUCPJ and UCIMC will host “Reclaiming MLK’s Radical Roots” as part of a national effort to bring the #BlackLivesMatter movement into the New Year.  The event will be:

A.C.L.U. in $50 Million Push to Reduce Jail Sentences

A message our county board and those down at the courthouse need to hear loud and clear...

by Eric Eckholm

With a $50 million foundation grant, the largest in its history, the American Civil Liberties Union plans to mount an eight-year political campaign across the country to make a change of criminal justice policies a key issue in local, state and national elections.

Citing Failed War on Drugs, World Leaders Call for Widespread Decriminalization

Global commission condemns "harsh measures grounded in repressive ideologies"

by Deidre Fulton, Commondreams staff writer

In the face of a failed War on Drugs, a global commission composed mostly of former world leaders recommended on Tuesday that governments decriminalize and regulate the use of currently illicit drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, and psychedelics.

Crime, Bias and Statistics

by Charles M. Blow

Discussions of the relationship between blacks and the criminal justice system in this country too often grind to a halt as people slink down into their silos and arm themselves with their best rhetorical weapons — racial bias on one side and statistics in which minorities, particularly blacks, are overrepresented as criminals on the other.

What I find too often overlooked in this war of words is the intersection between the two positions, meaning the degree to which bias informs the statistics and vice versa.

The troubling association — in fact, overassociation — of blacks with criminality directly affects the way we think about both crime and blacks as a whole.

A damning report released by the Sentencing Project last week ( lays bare the bias and the interconnecting systemic structures that reinforce it and disproportionately affect African-Americans.

Let's Interupt the Cradle-to-Prison Pipeline by Empowering Our Nation's Youth

By supporting the The Youth PROMISE Act and other programs that save lives, we can give every young person the chance to reach their full potential

by Matthew Albracht

Were you aware that in the United States, homicide frequently ranks as the 2nd leading cause of death for youths aged 15 to 24 years old?  Sadly, good case could be made that many of our own neighborhoods are effectively war zones.

In fact, research has shown that many youth in these communities struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder at similar levels to what’s experienced by returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans . It’s one of the great and too-often ignored tragedies of our time—and it’s happening in our own neighborhoods. 

'They Just Killed Him': New Video Betrays Police Depiction of Fatal Shooting

Amid ongoing demonstrations in city of Ferguson, Mo. and national outrage over police violence against black community members, new evidence in Tuesday's shooting of man by St. Louis police

by John Queally, Commondreams staff writer

New York Times Editorial Board: Repeal Prohibition, Again

The paper of record goes on the record unequivocably in favor of legalization of marijuana.

by the New York Times Editorial Board

It took 13 years for the United States to come to its senses and end Prohibition, 13 years in which people kept drinking, otherwise law-abiding citizens became criminals and crime syndicates arose and flourished. It has been more than 40 years since Congress passed the current ban on marijuana, inflicting great harm on society just to prohibit a substance far less dangerous than alcohol.

The federal government should repeal the ban on marijuana.

We reached that conclusion after a great deal of discussion among the members of The Times’s Editorial Board, inspired by a rapidly growing movement among the states to reform marijuana laws.

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