Why we should care about incarcerated mothers

The dramatic increase in the number of incarcerated women in Illinois in recent years has raised concerns on multiple levels. The most troubling of these issues is the impact on what are variously referred to as the secondary victims, or the unintended victims, or—more troubling still—the invisible victims of the criminal justice system. The children of incarcerated mothers. There are significant reasons why we all should see them, why we must be concerned about them and about the social costs of their potentially fractured lives. As has been documented in the Columbia University Social Work Review, children of incarcerated mothers experience a wide range of consequences — some of which can be destabilizing and enduring.

On being Black and patriotic: A Memorial Day takeaway

“One ever feels his two-ness, — an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body…”

— W.E.B. DuBois

Until this past weekend I never really thought about any special connection between African Americans and Memorial Day. Certainly, there are people touched deeply by the tragic loss of a loved one in war. But, apart from that direct relationship, there seemed to me little reason for Black people to join the mass outpouring of patriotism in a country that, for so long, had excluded them from the rights and privileges of full citizenship. A thorny matter. One that is little understood by people outside the family.

James Kilgore

Kilgore case a potential ‘blow’ to academic freedom, equity

When it was announced on April 22 that James Kilgore’s contract would not be renewed by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, there was no reason given. This, of course, only gave reason for speculation. On whether the employment decision about this lecturer and researcher had been made in response to recent publicity about his past — prison time served on a second-degree murder conviction. Or whether it had more to do with activities in the here and now — public opposition to the construction of a new jail in downstate Champaign County. For a number of Illinois faculty members, either scenario is problematic.

Education Justice Project

A high bar for educating inmates can help society and the bottom line

The invitation to the Art Theatre in downtown Champaign, Illinois last week was for a 2-hour screening event, a typical length for many Hollywood features these days. But this was not typical. Far from it. The actual screening was only 10 minutes long. But a powerfully compact and well-produced documentary told the story of the successful mission of the Education Justice Project, a commitment to developing a model prison education program in Danville Correctional Center some 30 or so miles to the east.

NABJ Panel

Crime coverage in media perpetuates racial stereotypes

It was a provocative question. Simple and complex all at once. “What are the consequences of media failure to cover social difference effectively?”

The students attending the two-day regional summit of National Association of Black Journalists campus chapters wanted an answer. But they wanted something more from the panel of journalism professionals and professors brought together by NABJ student organizers at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, last weekend. They wanted a vocabulary to deal with the issues of media responsibility they undoubtedly will confront as professionals.

Anthony Dansberry

Wrongfully convicted, Dansberry’s fate may hinge on political climate

Anthony Dansberry has served nearly half of his life in prison for murder. The evidence against him was questionable, to say the least. His lawyers from the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University (CWC) say it was unreliable. Now his fate just might ride on something unpredictable: the gubernatorial election. Convicted in May 1996 and sentenced to 75 years on the basis of a dubious confession and contested eyewitness identification, Dansberry is awaiting a decision by Gov. Pat Quinn on his clemency petition at a time when Quinn’s future hinges on a reelection challenge by Republican venture capitalist Bruce Rauner.