I don't know about most people wanting to spend money on prevention programs. Head Start and Early childhood ed programs were cut, along with after school programs. It takes some education on the overall picture for people to support these valuable programs.
I wouldn't say that 15 of 17 are "anti inmate". Obviously the idea of early release for LWOP people is a political landmine. I agree with you in part Jims, that this is not the end of this discussion. However those with heinous crimes are not going to be released. David Biro needs to stay in prison. I am not going to give up on having better medical care for inmates, and programs for them. Let's look at what we can still achieve, pay attention to what the committee is looking at, and continue to call, email and write letters. We need to work with other groups advocating for inmates. How many of the 45,000 IL inmates are from Chicago? I bet there are lots and lots of l groups advocating for inmates there. There have to be tons of black churches doing prison ministry. Is there any group that ties all these groups together?
I think there are some lessons to be learned here. I personally feel there is too much bashing of IDOC here. Why would they trust an IPT group to work with them on anything if we constantly criticize them? Let's put egos aside and do what works. Take a look at the way Dee B works. We have to figure out what is possible at this time, and work at that. I don't know the man who died on Thanksgiving day. How was he able to accomplish so much? I wasn't there at his funeral, I am asking a question.
Perhaps by taking a more moderate voice we could accomplish more.
I don't know if David Biro needs to stay in prison or not. I don't know him. I don't know his record. He's only been in about 15 years, and he's only in his early 30's. Most inmates mellow out by the time they reach their 40's and often transform into remorseful, changed individuals. I would agree that he should not, at this time, get out. The point is, if the courts rule on the issue and overturn LWOP retroactively in the face of a prospective law, they won't be able to cherry pick retroactive cases. We were advocating a system that would have allowed for just that - putting in place very stringent guidelines before allowing anyone already sentenced to LWOP to be released.
I like Miss Dee, and I wish she had been able to stay in place as Warden. But it is still unclear as to what she will be able to accomplish in her current position. Again, the point is that this resolution was written specifically to look at long term sentences, particularly LWOP. We all would like to see better programs - but isn't that Miss Dee's current focus and assignment at IDOC? It would be nice if they could receive better health care, but I doubt that this committee will have any great impact on that either, since it is largely a budgetary one. The one sub-committee that still may be able to significantly impact the system is the one studying indeterminate sentencing. That's where the cost figures could be of importance and start the thought process on whether or not it has worked to reduce crime or recidivism. Other states across the country are also evaluating both indeterminate sentencing and truth-in-sentencing laws, with results pointing towards failure to reduce either crime or recidivism; and of course, both have had a dramatic upward impact on correctional budgets.
Yes, there are many groups working for inmate rights. A few fairly well organized, others not. Those that have any organizational strength generally receive the publicity, paltry though publicity is for pro-inmates' rights. Nationwide there are larger organizations of course that have been effective. What happens at the local (state) level so often is that they start out with motivated and enthusiastic supporters, who then dwindle as the fight gets tougher and the available funding gets smaller and smaller. The supporters keep getting asked to contribute more and more of their time and money to fill the void, and it eventually falls apart. I think it would be a great idea to try to tie together prison ministries, not just Black churches but all the faiths, in a meaningful effort aimed at strengthening the justice system by eliminating the prosecutorial strangleholds in so many counties, by educating the public about the roots of criminal behavior, and so many other issues.
I firmly believe that the answer lies in methodical education. Talk to people who aren't directly involved with the prisons (i.e., don't have a loved one incarcerated or aren't defense attorneys), and it's sad to hear how little they know or understand about what happens. How many people really know about false confessions, especially used to convict vulnerable children? How many people (all potential jurors) fully understand that hair analysis and fingerprint analysis and eyewitness identification are all very inexact forensics tools? How many people know how widespread police corruption really is especially involving interrogations? It is amazing how many people completely trust police detectives, police officers, and state officials (prosecutors) and distrust criminal defense attorneys! And that's not to say that all police are corrupt or all prosecutors are just out to fill their quotas and get promotions. But too many ARE. There are myriad issues involving the justice system that people don't become aware of until they are right in the thick of it when they, or a family member, becomes involved. I don't think I could be accused of bashing law enforcement officials by saying that it is a fairly closed society, meaning, they protect their own. They lie on the stand - WE all know this! We know guys who are incarcerated and have been incarcerated for years because of the testimony of overly zealous detectives and prosecutors! We know guys who were convicted because of the "paid" testimony of a jailhouse snitch! We know this happens. The public at large needs to know it, too.
The problem, too, with bringing several organizations together is that it becomes difficult to control. This group wants their agenda, that group wants theirs. This group wants to lead, that group thinks they should. Which is not to say it wouldn't work; just that historically, it has been difficult which can lead to disorganization and chaos. But there could and perhaps should be a coalition with a central committee that keeps each separate organization informed of its efforts, and combines forces when appropriate.
And finally, IDOC sometimes needs to be bashed. I don't think anyone on this site goes overboard or says anything that isn't true. Like law enforcement, IDOC can also be a secret society of sorts! There has been very little public accountability because the public, by and large, doesn't know what goes on inside! I just read a post on Shawnee with a link to an inmate's case. This is the inmate who wrote up the HJR80 Resolution and IPT has posted several of his letters. I had no idea what had happened to him: http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/data2/circs/7th/051868p.pdf
The inmate who slugged a guard back in the summer was also beaten severely in retaliation, and had his neck broken. I don't even know if he's alive. There is a rumor that he died, but it is an unsubstantiated rumor since they won't release his name.