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Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
3:44pm
Tue Apr 26

Children At Risk: Protections Needed To Improve Welfare Of Youth With Incarcerated Parents

Having a parent in jail or prison can have the same impact on a child's well-being as abuse or domestic violence, according to a new report that is pushing for the expansion of support services to families affected by incarceration.

Children of incarcerated parents face increased risks of financial and emotional instability, the new study, released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, reports.

"Incarceration breaks up families, the building blocks of our communities and nation," reads the study. "It creates an unstable environment for kids that can have lasting effects on their development and well-being."

Some 186,000 kids in Illinois, representing 6 percent of the state's child population, have a parent who has served time behind bars. Nationally, 5 million kids, or 7 percent of the child population, have had a parent in jail or prison during their childhood, according to the research, based on data from 2011 and 2012.

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
2:16pm
Thu Feb 18

Illinois Rep. Cassidy Seeks To Increase Inmate Access To GED Education (VIDEO)

In an effort to reduce recidivism, State Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) introduced legislation last week that would increase "timely and comprehensive" access to GED education for Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) inmates.

"I think that the general public would be surprised to hear how little programming is available for the folks that are incarcerated in our facilities," Cassidy said at a news conference at the Howard Area Community Center in Chicago's Rogers Park neighborhood on the North Side.

Joined by formerly incarcerated men and activists from the ONE Northside Violence Prevention Coalition, Cassidy said the legislation aims to turn the IDOC "into something whose mission is dedicated to the act of making someone better."

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
1:52pm
Tue Jul 22, 2014

Sheriff Dart, Chicago Faith Leaders Discuss Incarceration Alternatives For Mentally Ill Inmates (VIDEO)

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart has pledged to work with Chicago community and faith leaders in their effort to establish pilot restorative justice "hubs" with a focus on mental health services on the South and Southwest Sides as a means to keep people with mental illness out of the county's jail.

The Reclaim Campaign, comprised of Chicago community and church leaders, wants to see more community-based alternatives to incarceration created in order to reduce the number of nonviolent inmates at the jail. Specifically, the group has called for community mental health centers, or hubs, to work towards preventing those with mental illness from being unnecessarily incarcerated.

At a packed public meeting Monday evening hosted by the Reclaim Campaign at the South Side's St. Gall Church, Teresa Fraga, with the Pilsen Neighbors Community Council and Gamaliel of Metro Chicago, said a restorative justice hub would serve as "a community-based, accessible, affordable institution that provides health care to the uninsured, the underinsured and the undocumented."

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
11:18am
Tue May 13, 2014

Illinois Bill Looks To Ban Criminal History Questions From Private Employer Job Applications

Illinois could soon become the fifth U.S. state to "ban the box" that inquires about criminal history on initial applications for most private sector jobs.

The state House recently voted 63-53 to approve the "Job Opportunities for Qualified Applicants Act," which would require private employers or employment agencies in Illinois with 15 or more employees to evaluate an applicant's skills and qualifications before asking about criminal history. Under the measure, sponsored by State Rep. Rita Mayfield (D-Waukegan), employers would be allowed to conduct background checks and request conviction information from applicants, but not until later in the interviewing process. 

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
3:34pm
Thu Mar 6, 2014

10th District Race: Candidates Sound Off On Elected Chicago School Board, TIF Reform

Three of the five candidates vying to unseat incumbent State Rep. Derrick Smith (D-Chicago) in the crowded 10th District Illinois House race took part in a forum Wednesday night, discussing everything from education to TIFs. Progress Illinois was there for the discussion. 

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
11:35am
Wed Mar 5, 2014

Illinois GOP Gubernatorial Candidates Debate Social Issues

The four Illinois GOP gubernatorial hopefuls faced questions about a number of social issues at a Tuesday night debate, ranging from the death penalty and women’s reproductive rights to helping ex-offenders reintegrate into society. Progress Illinois provides some highlights from the forum.

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
1:35pm
Thu Feb 20, 2014

Cook Co. Board Hopefuls Tout Endorsements At Candidate Forum; Boykin Fires Back At Residency Concerns

Candidates running in the crowded West Side Democratic primary race for Cook County commissioner had a chance to make their pitch to voters at a candidate forum Wednesday night. Progress Illinois provides some of the highlights from the event.

Quick Hit
by
1:57pm
Tue Feb 11, 2014

U.S. Rep. Rush Applauds FCC’s Decision To Lower Prison Phone Rates

The following comes from the office of U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL,1).

For three straight Congresses, Energy and Commerce Committee Member Bobby L. Rush introduced legislation and advocated nationally to dramatically reduce exorbitant rates that are charged for phone calls between incarcerated individuals and their families and loved ones. Today, Rep. Rush raises his voice along with these families in commending the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and especially Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, for its recent actions to lower prison phone rates. The new rates will protect families and their imprisoned loved ones when making phone calls to people in prison, jails, or detention centers.

Beginning today, February 11, 2014, and pursuant to a recently adopted FCC interim rate cap, interstate long-distance phone calls cannot cost more than 25 cents per minute for collect calls, or 21 cents per minute for debit and prepaid calls. Prior to today, interstate long distance calls could run as high as $17 for a 15-minute call at some state correctional facilities and jails. Due to the rate cap, the same 15-minute call cannot exceed $3.15. 

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