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2929 S. Wabash, Suite 203

Chicago, IL 60616

(312) 361-1161

This past week, as people across the globe confronted the uncharted reality of the coronavirus pandemic, the Workers Center for Racial Justice (WCRJ) assessed the grave challenges that lie ahead, and developed a community centered response strategy. Against the sobering backdrop of this unprecedented health disaster, we will continue our fight for racial justice, reimagining how our society cares for its people and leveraging collective power to achieve a common vision of equity, opportunity, and liberation.


This historic global crisis will test the mettle of our country, and lay bare not only the faulty underpinnings of its unjust institutions, but also the true source of its enduring resilience and strength, which are rooted in our communities. In a moment in which the nation’s chief executive has utterly failed to exhibit the judgement, resolve, and humanity warranted by this deadly pandemic, it is incumbent upon our communities to assume the mantle of leadership.

In the weeks and months to come, WCRJ will be calling on our allies and supporters to join us in confronting this devastating public health catastrophe by advocating for racially and economically just response measures at the national, state, and local levels. As we continue to care for ourselves and our communities by adhering to safe social distancing guidelines, your support of WCRJ’s online advocacy efforts are more vitally needed than ever.


We urge you to take part in our initial COVID-19 rapid response action to protect the health and human rights of individuals impacted by local prison, jail, and law enforcement systems.


In just under a minute you can send pre-written emails to:

  • Urge Governor Pritzker and Lieutenant Governor Stratton to address the overwhelming threat that COVID-19 poses to the tens of thousands of individuals currently detained in Illinois' prison system

  • Demand that Mayor Lightfoot issue clear directives to the Chicago Police Department to protect the health, safety, and human rights of communities most targeted by the city law enforcement amidst the unfolding coronavirus pandemic

  • Support the Chicago Community Bond Fund’s powerful initiative to decarcerate Cook County jails in the name of public health


Your voice is critically needed, and we’ve made it quick and easy to send these important emails. 

Last week the Workers Center for Racial Justice (WCRJ) introduced two groundbreaking bills into the Illinois Legislature that aim to dismantle the state’s inhumane prison system, and equitably reinvest public resources back into our communities. In order to ensure that these critical measures advance in the General Assembly, WCRJ needs your support!


Take 30 seconds to send a pre-written message urging members of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus, as well as the Governor and Lieutenant Governor, to endorse these important bills.


The SAFER (Securing All Futures for Equitable Reinvestment) Communities Act (HB 5394) offers Illinois a bold new vision of what community safety can look like when we divest from systems that perpetuate racialized structural inequity -- such as prisons and law enforcement -- and reinvest public dollars in initiatives that foster opportunity and justice for all. The measure would implement assertive reform of Illinois’ overly punitive and racially targeted sentencing laws. The public savings resulting from decarceration would directly fund a job creation program designed to spur hiring of applicants with conviction histories.


HB 5010 would amend state sentencing law to abolish extended terms, a draconian facet of Illinois' criminal code, which permits the courts to impose long stretches of additional prison time onto already excessive sentences. By offering judges wide discretionary power to lengthen sentences on the basis of a sweeping array of broadly defined and often subjective “aggravating” factors, extended terms magnify the impact of racial bias in our local court system.


Your voice is vital to the fight for racial justice and liberation in Illinois, and beyond.

Join WCRJ as we call upon elected officials in Illinois to undertake the necessary actions to reverse mass incarceration and promote equitable opportunity for all.

On Monday, October 28th, Illinois’ House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to consider a dangerous bill that would undermine safety, justice and liberation for young people across the state. HB 333 would implement harsh mandatory minimum sentences for minors charged with weapon possession and prohibit prosecutors from pursuing more humane and effective means of case resolution, such as conditional probation and restorative justice diversion programs. If enacted, this measure would fortify Illinois’ destructive and racially targeted youth prison pipeline, in which juvenile detention serves as an entry point into an inexorable cycle of adult incarceration.


Take a minute to send members of the Illinois House Judiciary Committee a clear message: We will not stand by as you lock up our children.


In Illinois, mandatory minimum sentences have proved counterproductive in deterring crime. In fewer than two decades, the state’s General Assembly increased penalties for weapon possession six times, and local police and prosecutors targeted their enforcement efforts on communities of color with laser precision. Illinois’ draconian sentencing practices have not resulted in decreased crime rates, but rather prompted a threefold increase in the number of Illinoisans incarcerated for weapons charges. The collateral impacts on economic stability in majority-black neighborhoods have only served to further exacerbate racialized inequality and erode public safety.


Moreover, Illinois’ juvenile justice system is a pernicious agent of racialized mass incarceration statewide. Black children, who are grossly overrepresented in the juvenile detention system, are routinely funneled through the state’s youth facilities into adult prison.

In Illinois more equitable alternatives to youth incarceration have served to foster public safety. In recent years, as the state adopted more humane juvenile practices, such as case diversion and restorative justice programs, the youth detention rate fell by 62%. During this time, Illinois witnessed a steady statewide decrease in juvenile crime rates.

Join WCRJ as we take a stand against locking up our children and undermining the safety of our communities.


Take 30 seconds to send a one-click, prewritten email calling upon members of the Illinois House Judiciary Committee to block this legislation from moving forward.


 

Your voice is critical to advancing racial justice and liberation in Illinois.