Letter Writing to Those Inside Prison Walls
Join us on Tuesday, Dec. 1 at 7 p.m. to learn about being a pen pal to those who are incarcerated in our Illinois prisons. We will review a training video from the Church of the Larger Fellowship Illinois Ambassador which includes what is expected from a pen pal.
Being a pen pal is more than about getting mail. It is about establishing a mutual relationship. You will have the opportunity of being proximate, learning together and giving voice to someone on the inside. This can be a wonderful experience for you and the person you are writing.
Please let us know if you are interested in making a connection through letter writing by contacting email@example.com and we will send you the zoom link.
Prison Ministry Team Leaders
Prison Industrial Complex 101: Virtual Training
Saturday, January 16, 2021, 10:00am - 11:30pm CST and
Saturday, January 23, 2021, 10:00am - 11:30pm CST
It’s easy to feel helpless in the face of the racial and economic injustice in our society. This is an opportunity to learn and reflect on what we can do to change it. This workshop is intended to challenge participants towards growth and inspire ongoing work and action. During workshop participants will have the opportunity to:
· Examine the prison industrial complex root: its reach, impact and our ability to transform it.
· Connect Unitarian Universalist (UU) values to the work to divest from prisons and police and invest in building new systems of safety, healing, and accountability.
· Build connections with organizations engaged in prisoner solidarity and restorative justice.
· Learn about the UU Prison Ministry and how your congregation or community can support our work.
Arkee Chaney's Art Website
Arkee Chaney spent 34 years in prison. He was convicted under "3 strikes" legislation. Jennifer Sobles. Illinois Prison Project and Wendy Bloom and Kirkland and Ellis submitted clemency petition. Governor Pritzker granted clemency.
Arkee says art rehabilitated him. He has established an art studio in my garage where he creates more art.
Katrina Burlit set up his website, the attached link will lead you to it. There you will find awesome art including abstracts, African American experience and beautiful ceramics. Please share widely.
For ease of access, here's the link: https://www.arkeestudios.com
Fellow Criminal Justice Advocates,
Thank you for reaching out to your State Legislators regarding the Older Adult Parole Bill. We had a good response and got some phones ringing, emails sent and witness slips submitted. Here is an update.
There was a Senate Criminal Law Committee Hearing held recently and they discussed Elderly Parole as one of the topics. So the issue is getting some discussion. We had 170 witness slips sent to support Elderly Parole prior to the hearing.
We are hopeful that the bill will be voted out of the Senate and House Criminal Law committees as a stand-alone bill as we have it now or as part of a larger piece of criminal justice legislation. This will be decided in the next few weeks. One we know what is happening with the bill, we could use your help again either contacting your legislators and/or filling out a witness slip. This would happen either mid-November, early December or early January in the veto sessions.
For now, we are waiting to hear what will happen with the bill. Once we know, we will send another email asking for your help. Thank you so much for reaching out to voice your opinion, either with a phone call, email, or witness slip. It really makes a difference.
Incarcerated Activists Raise the Bar on Parole
How Formerly Incarcerated Firefighters Are Getting the Jobs and Pay They Deserve
In 2014, Brandon Smith—unemployed but trained as a wildland firefighter—applied for upwards of 15 positions at local and state fire departments in California. Qualified for the work after two years of firefighting, he spent nearly 18 months fielding rejections, not because of his credentials, but because he couldn’t pass a background check. One local department offered him a job, but then rescinded it when they saw he had formerly been incarcerated.
There are thousands of other people like Smith, formerly incarcerated and trained as firefighters, who face a number of hurdles when applying for jobs. To overcome these systemic barriers, Smith and fellow wildland firefighter Royal Ramey founded the Fire and Forestry Recruitment Program, aimed at training and helping formerly incarcerated people find employment as firefighters.
As the state enters the most catastrophic fire season on record, the work of wildland firefighters is more critical than ever, yet the state is facing a shortage of potential workers. For years, the state has lacked a formalized process for incorporating firefighters that have been incarcerated into its ranks. This year that could change.
It all began with the simple act of writing a letter. A group of folks gathered to begin a pen pal program under the leadership of Rev Karen Mooney from the UU Prison Ministry of Illinois UUPMI. Over time, unexpectedly and with some hesitation, real relationships were forged with people incarcerated in the Illinois Correctional Complex. As they learned of the horrors suffered by their friends behind bars, a project was born and UCH took up the cause of reinstating Parole in the state of Illinois.
Writing letters and forging friendships is an ongoing project at UCH. The group meets quarterly to compare their experiences and to support one another in the ongoing process of reaching out and connecting with other folks - folks we might never know in our daily lives. It has been a powerful and transformative ministry in UCH
interviewing Renaldo Hudson