Faith & Criminal Justice

faith-criminal-justice

Sen. Kwame Raoul has built on the advances made in the sealing and expungement legislation of the past several years by introducing SB3488.

Decriminalize marijuana? The fact that over 70 municipalities have already done so may be one of the best-kept secrets in Illinois. Two years ago, PCG staff noticed a one-paragraph story in the Chicago Tribune stating that Chicago Heights had decriminalized low levels of cannabis. We decided to gather data on how many other municipalities had taken the same action.

Prior to August 19, 2011, if a person’s RAP sheet consisted only of an arrest with no convictions s/he could petition the court to have the arrest[s] expunged, but if s/he had one conviction or more, any subsequent arrest that did not lead to a conviction could not be expunged/sealed from the person's RAP sheet. This scenario has led to barriers in housing, employment, and educational opportunities for thousands of people based on misleading and/or misinterpreted RAP sheets.

On Sunday, I witnessed an arrest. I had just returned to Chicago from a trip to St. Louis and the heat in the city was blistering. My apartment does not have air conditioning, and, with a heat index in the triple digits, I decided to take my dog down for a walk on the shore so that we could both find some relief in the coolness of the lake breeze. As I rounded the corner of my building, I saw blue lights in the alley--lots of blue lights.

Acts of political courage are not all that common these days. That's why County Board President Toni Preckwinkle's presence at a rally in downtown Chicago last Friday calling for an “End to the War on Drugs” was a singular event.

Attorneys General and States Attorneys across the nation must think they’ve been given special selective powers by the post-resurrection Jesus.

Chicago, IL: Just recently Governor Quinn signed the legislation to repeal the death penalty into law. Attend this workshop to find out the position of the Catholic Church, learn about the church’s active role in passing the legislation, and receive important information on how to educate others on this crucial issue. The workshop costs $10 and registration is required. Contact the Congregation of St. Joseph at 708-482-5042 for more information and to RSVP.

The so-called War on Drugs has turned the United States into a “prisoner nation” with horrendous consequences for African Americans. Pam Rodriquez, head of Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities (TASC) served as staff director of the Disproportionate Justice Impact Commission Report, mandated two years ago by the Illinois General Assembly.

Why should Christians care about drug policy? Just last week, our new Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle answered this question with a forthrightness I have rarely seen in any political leader. Holding up a copy of the book The New Jim Crow, Mass Incarceration in the Age of Color Blindness, President Preckwinkle stated that we as a society we are guilty of “institutional racism.”

Rockford, IL: The Rock Valley College Philosophy Department, as part of it’s open lecture series, has welcomed Sister Helen Prejean to speak about her work as a national advocate for the abolition of the death penalty. She is the author of Dead Man Walking: An Eye Witness Account of the Death Penalty in the United States, and has spent much of her life counseling death row inmates. The lecture will run from 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. with a Q&A to follow.

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