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Sign Our Petition Calling On The State Of Illinois To Immediately End Solitary Confinement

ICAT is supporting efforts to end solitary confinement in Illinois prisons.

Sign our petition calling on the State of Illinois to immediately end solitary confinement.

Illinois state prisons have approximately 2,200 prisoners in solitary confinement whose average length of stay is 2.8 years. These prisoners are alone in a cell with no human contact for 23 hours a day with limited access to commissary, phone calls or exercise.

Eighty-five percent of Illinois prisoners placed in solitary confinement are there solely as a disciplinary action for minor behavioral infractions. Medical experts, Amnesty International, and the Chicago City Council have condemned solitary confinement.

Read more about our campaign here.

Young, Black Activists Emerge Amid Repeated Police Controversies in Chicago

We think this is an important article from The Chicago Tribune:

Young, black activists emerge amid repeated police controversies in Chicago

By Dawn Rhodes and Tony Briscoe
December 21, 2015
Chicago Tribune

An iconic image has emerged from street protests since Chicago released video of a white police officer gunning down black 17-year-old Laquan McDonald: a teenager standing nose to nose with a police officer, staring him down without flinching.

For the past four weeks, activists — overwhelmingly black and mostly in their teens and early 20s — have marched down the middle of busy streets during rush-hour traffic and lain down in intersections. They have rushed the Magnificent Mile on the year’s busiest shopping day, locking arms and blocking store entrances. Thursday, on Christmas Eve, they vow to come back downtown to disrupt last-minute shopping.

Read the rest by clicking here.

Doing One’s Bit Does Make A Difference: ICAT Member Sister Benita Coffey

Read this great profile of ICAT member Sister Benita Coffey, including her thoughts on solitary confinement:SisterBenita2

Even though over two million adults are currently
incarcerated in our country, injustice within our correctional system can sometimes seem invisible and easy to ignore, especially if we do not have a personal connection to the issue. Fortunately, dedicated individuals like Sister Benita Coffey, OSB, are working to insure that we do not forget our brothers and sisters in prison, particularly those who face solitary confinement and/or the death penalty.

“Solitary confinement is torture, and has been declared that by the U.N. and anybody who has any sense at all,” says Sister Benita, a member of the Benedictine Sisters of Chicago who is working to end torture in our prisons. She serves as the Social Justice Promoter in her community and works with the Illinois Coalition Against Torture (ICAT).

The full profile is available by clicking here.

Local Organizations Protest Use of Solitary Confinement

Jul 24, 2015
Chicago Defender
By Tatiana Walk-Morris

President Obama isn’t the only one calling attention to troubling living conditions in America’s prisons.

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.

The Uptown People’s Law Center and Winston & Strawn LLP filed a class action lawsuit last month against the Illinois Department of Corrections for its misuse and overuse of solitary confinement. The suit seeks the department’s compliance with the American Bar Association’s standards, according to a press release.

Black people are incarcerated five times more than white people are, and Hispanics are nearly twice as likely to be incarcerated as whites, according to PrisonPolicy.org

“We wind up putting [people] in there for minor offenses. And once they’re there, they stay way too long,” said Allen Mills, executive director of the Uptown People’s Law Center. “We’ve used the criminal justice system to—instead of solving society’s problems—hide them behind brick walls.”

Read the rest of the article by clicking here.

End Solitary Confinement – Illinois Action

Please join us:

Thursday, July 23 at 5:00pm – 6:30pm
Thompson Center
100 W Randolph St, Chicago, Illinois 60601

The Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) estimates that 2,500 – 3,000 people are held in solitary confinement in Illinois on any given day. The Federal Bureau of Prisons plans to open Thomson Supermax Prison in Thomson, IL by the end of the year, bringing 1,500 new solitary cells to the state.

The United Nations considers solitary confinement beyond 15 days torture and has called for its absolute prohibition. Many people in Illinois and throughout the US have spent decades in solitary. We say NO MORE.

All those opposed to solitary confinement are invited to rally on July 23rd outside the Thompson Center, home of IDOC before marching to the Federal Building. We demand an end to the torturous practice in Illinois, by both the state and federal government. We demand that the Illinois legislature hold a hearing to investigate solitary confinement, or what they call “Segregation” or “Administrative Detention”. We demand Thomson close its doors, as Tamms did 2.5 years ago.

This action is in solidarity with anti-solitary activists in California who have been organizing actions, events, teach-ins, and more on the 23rd of every month as part of a statewide campaign to end solitary confinement. They’ve chosen the 23rd of the month because people held in solitary spend at least 23 hours/day in isolation.

RSVP via Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/events/511219215692757/.

Voices from Solitary: Phantom Souls

Fifteen years ago, Gerard G. Schultz, Jr., now 38, was convicted of murder in Phoenix, Arizona. He is serving a life sentence and has been in solitary since 2008, when he was transferred from Arizona to Illinois under the Interstate Corrections Compact. In Illinois, he was placed in Tamms Supermax Prison until it was closed by the governor in January 2013. Since that time, he has been held in the Pontiac Correctional Center, where he reports that he is still in isolation.

Read his essay at Solitary Watch.

FRONTLINE: Locked Up in America: Solitary Nation and Prison State 

We recommend viewing these two documentaries by PBS’ Frontline to find out about solitary confinement and incarceration in the United States.  Here are PBS’ descriptions.

FRONTLINE: Locked Up in America: Solitary Nation and Prison State

Two films examine incarceration in the United States.

For decades, the United States has been fixated on incarceration, building prisons and locking up more and more people. But at what cost, and has it really made a difference? FRONTLINE goes to the epicenter of the raging debate about incarceration in America, focusing on the controversial practice of solitary confinement and on new efforts to reduce the prison population, as officials are rethinking what to do with criminals. Award-winning director and producer Dan Edge gives viewers these raw and unforgettable firsthand accounts from prisoners, prison staff, and people whose lives are forever altered by this troubled system.

Solitary Nation presents a visceral portrait of life in a solitary-confinement unit in Maine’s maximum-security prison, told through the inmates living in isolation, the officers watching over them, and the new warden who is desperately trying to reform the system.

Prison State takes an intimate look at the cycle of mass incarceration in America and a statewide effort to reverse the trend, following four residents of a housing project in Louisville, Ky., as they cycle in and out of the state’s jails and prisons.

Watch the episodes and get additional resources by clicking here.

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