Illinois Criminal Justice Watchdog Wins MacArthur Award

The John Howard Association of Illinois is one of nine nonprofit recipients of the MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions. The $500,000 award acknowledges not only the organizations’ “past leadership and successes but also an investment in the future.”

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OP-ED: Reforming Juvenile Justice Requires Restructuring our Mindset

With youth crime rates and numbers of incarcerated youths declining, now is the ideal time to review how juvenile incarceration meets the needs of youths, their families and society. California is in the process of allocating $80 million in funding for counties to build juvenile facilities. To ensure these facilities are rehabilitative, they need to originate from a belief in the capacity for people to change. Psychologists refer to this belief as mindset; it is a well-established phenomenon in education, and is equally applicable to our juvenile justice system. Mindset applies to everyone.

Azra Tahirovic holds a hand-drawn portrait of King.

Protesters Seek NYPD Policy Change in Spirit of Dr. King

NEW YORK — The image and words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. could be seen and heard everywhere the Dream4Justice march went, from Harlem to Midtown, Monday afternoon. But as the marchers walked a slow and peaceful four miles over as many hours, King’s voice mixed with the protesters’ now familiar chants: “I have a dream” alongside “I can’t breathe” and “No justice, no peace.”

King’s memory brought organizers and protesters together but the marchers’ demands came from more recent deaths. In memory of Michael Brown, Eric Garner and others who had been killed by police, the march ended near the United Nations to bring attention to police brutality as a human rights issue. Marchers called for immediate policy change at the city and state levels in keeping with King’s philosophy. “We are non-violent but we are not peaceful,” said Tamika Mallory, an organizer and board member of The Gathering for Justice.

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OP-ED: Ferguson Latest Example That Courts Don’t Bring Justice

In this moment of high drama when the nation’s attention is focused on Ferguson, it is important to remember something:

The entire saga of Michael Brown’s killing is simultaneously an individual tragedy and a window into the much larger injustice of ongoing white oppression. For the latter concern the particular outcome of the jury’s deliberations are less relevant, though of course the failure of the grand jury to indict Darren Wilson brings tremendous pain to those who have fought to see a trial happen. Do any of us imagine that convicting Darren Wilson of murder would begin to address the larger injustice? The very system that we have been asking to create justice in this instance is the agent of injustice across the nation, as schools, police, courts and prisons carry out the implementation of what writer Michelle Alexander so aptly calls The New Jim Crow. Real justice on a societal level doesn’t come from courts, it comes from struggle against the system of injustice.

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OP-ED: Can Reform Efforts Strengthen Justice System?

Because we work from the desire to create more just and less alienating ways of interacting, we often find ourselves worrying about our overall impact in complex situations. Above all we wish to avoid doing further harm, but that isn’t always easy to determine.