John Howard Association of Illinois

John Howard Association of Illinois JHA works to achieve a fair, humane and cost-effective criminal justice system in Illinois by promoting adult and juvenile prison reform. The John Howard Association, or JHA, independently monitors correctional facilities, policies and practices, and advances reforms needed to achieve a fair, humane and effective criminal justice system in Illinois.
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JHA was founded in 1901 to provide critical citizen oversight of the state’s adult and juvenile correctional facilities, and continues this work today. It takes its name from John Howard, an 18th century humanitarian from Europe, who is largely considered the father of prison reform. JHA is the only independent citizen corrections monitor in the state of Illinois, and one of three such organizations in the USA.

Mission: Promoting public safety through cost-effective prison reform

Operating as usual

"There is no living situation more congregate, more dense, more dangerous during COVID-19 than prisons,” said Jennifer V...
12/24/2020
Activists fighting for inmates to get COVID-19 vaccine

"There is no living situation more congregate, more dense, more dangerous during COVID-19 than prisons,” said Jennifer Vollen-Katz, executive director of the Illinois prison watchdog group The John Howard Association. "People who are incarcerated should be prioritized for the vaccine because they live in such a dangerous environment.”

https://newschannel20.com/news/local/activists-fighting-for-inmates-to-get-covid-19-vaccine

Illinois prison activists want inmates to get the COVID-19 vaccine. 61 inmates behind bars at Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) facilities have died from the Coronavirus in 2020, 16 coming in December, now tied with November for the deadliest month this year. As of now, the prison population...

JHA is proud to have joined 60+ organizations in calling upon the IDPH to give priority COVID-19 vaccine access to incar...
12/22/2020
Chicago Appleseed

JHA is proud to have joined 60+ organizations in calling upon the IDPH to give priority COVID-19 vaccine access to incarcerated people. Prison health IS public health.

Today, we joined over 60 other organizations in calling on the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) to give priority #COVID19 vaccine access to people incarcerated in jails, prisons, or other detention facilities.

Data shows that detained people are amongst the most vulnerable in terms of contracting and dying from COVID-19. However, the “COVID-19 Vaccination Plan” released by IDPH on December 4 does not indicate the priority status of people living or working in corrections facilities across Illinois. To protect the health of everyone living in Illinois, we must treat these individuals with the same urgency in the vaccination rollout plan as people in other long-term congregate settings.

Follow this link for the full letter: http://www.chicagoappleseed.org/letter-to-idph-vaccine-priorities/

JHA is thrilled that Impact Justice has issued an important report focusing on the critical health issue of food within ...
12/14/2020

JHA is thrilled that Impact Justice has issued an important report focusing on the critical health issue of food within prisons. 68% of IDOC's incarcerated people reported to JHA that they were unsatisfied with food from dietary, and issues with Commissary and Dietary have been frequent during the pandemic. To learn more about these issues, read the report below and visit thejha.org/covid19-surveys. #eatingbehindbars

Healthy food is a human right, and the stakes are especially high in confinement where a person’s access to food is controlled and limited. We hope you gained insight into #EatingBehindBars and the intersection of food justice with other justice movements. ICYMI, the full report is now available online: https://impactjustice.org/impact/food-in-prison/.

This kind of investment in opportunities for youth development and growth is how Illinois will not just reform policies ...
12/14/2020
Harrisburg-based program contributes to initiative looking for ‘effective alternatives to locking kids up’

This kind of investment in opportunities for youth development and growth is how Illinois will not just reform policies and practices in our juvenile justice system, but can dramatically change how we treat and support youth in conflict with the law.

https://www.pennlive.com/news/2020/12/harrisburg-based-program-contributes-to-initiative-looking-for-effective-alternatives-to-locking-kids-up.html

With Ballmer Group funding, the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform (CJJR) at Georgetown University and Youth Advocate Programs (YAP), Inc., of Harrisburg, partnered to provide six start-up grants late last year.

People living and working in prison and jail environments must be prioritized for COVID-19 vaccine distribution. Prison ...
12/10/2020
Opinion | Why prisoners should be at the head of the line for vaccines

People living and working in prison and jail environments must be prioritized for COVID-19 vaccine distribution. Prison health IS public health. #everyoneissomeone #releasemorepeople #vaccinatethevulnerable
https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/covid-19-vaccine-distribution-must-prioritize-prisoners-virus-killing-more-ncna1250461

Allocating precious medical resources to people who are serving time may be anathema to many, but officials must show some backbone — for moral and health reasons.

JHA has long called for Illinois’ prisons to meet national baseline standards for correctional policies and practices, a...
12/07/2020
Pinckneyville Correctional Center first state prison in a decade to earn national accreditation

JHA has long called for Illinois’ prisons to meet national baseline standards for correctional policies and practices, and for increased external oversight of Illinois’ prisons. The American Correctional Association’s recent audit for accreditation of Pinckneyville is a positive first step. We continue to urge officials to ensure that all IL prisons comply with ACA minimum standards, and to exceed these standards to create a more safe, humane, and rehabilitative prison system.
https://thesouthern.com/news/local/pinckneyville-correctional-center-first-state-prison-in-a-decade-to-earn-national-accreditation/article_6ea2d7e5-5f51-52e0-91d7-9234f3fe6516.html

Pinckneyville Correctional Center is the first state prison in more than a decade to complete the requirements for national accreditation, according to the Illinois Department of Corrections.

The impact of the pandemic is worse inside prisons and jails than virtually anywhere else. The process IDOC is using reg...
12/04/2020
IDOC Slow to Take Inmates with Prison Sentences

The impact of the pandemic is worse inside prisons and jails than virtually anywhere else. The process IDOC is using regarding the transfer of people from county facilities to the state prison system is in line with CDC guidance and best health practices for the health and safety of EVERYONE. It is important that county facilities implement the required use of quarantine and testing in order to reduce exposure and contagion in these systems that are already hotbeds of COVID-19.

http://www.wspynews.com/news/local/idoc-slow-to-take-inmates-with-prison-sentences/article_f18a7590-3574-11eb-821e-3f0f23981bb6.html

The Kendall County Jail is dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak that started last week and has infected at least 21 inmates and four staff members. In general, the goal has

John Howard Association of Illinois's cover photo
12/03/2020

John Howard Association of Illinois's cover photo

"Few prisoners in Illinois have faith in the grievance system. Just 5% considered it effective, according to a 2019 surv...
12/03/2020
WBEZ

"Few prisoners in Illinois have faith in the grievance system. Just 5% considered it effective, according to a 2019 survey by the John Howard Association, which collected responses from 12,780 prisoners across the state. And only 13% said they felt comfortable filing a grievance. “The biggest reason that people don’t feel comfortable is fear of retaliation,” said Vollen-Katz, executive director of the watchdog group."

NEW from WBEZ and ProPublica: Prisoners rely on grievances as an early-warning system for dangerous conditions, from poor medical care to abuse. But in Illinois, experts say the complaint system is sputtering — leaving inmates vulnerable to harm.

Important article by Shannon Heffernan on the problems with the prison grievance system and how it compromises the safet...
12/02/2020
The Way Prisoners Flag Guard Abuse, Inadequate Health Care and Unsanitary Conditions Is Broken

Important article by Shannon Heffernan on the problems with the prison grievance system and how it compromises the safety and rights of people inside.

https://www.propublica.org/article/the-way-prisoners-flag-guard-abuse-inadequate-health-care-and-unsanitary-conditions-is-broken?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social#1015858

Prisoners rely on grievances as an early-warning system for dangerous conditions, from poor medical care to abuse. But in Illinois, experts say the system is sputtering, with little oversight, resulting in injuries to prisoners.

Thank you to everyone who gave to JHA for #GivingTuesday!  We are grateful for your support of our mission.  We wish you...
12/02/2020

Thank you to everyone who gave to JHA for #GivingTuesday! We are grateful for your support of our mission. We wish you a healthy and happy end of the year! www.thejha.org/gt2020

John Howard Association of Illinois's cover photo
12/02/2020

John Howard Association of Illinois's cover photo

John Howard Association of Illinois's cover photo
11/30/2020

John Howard Association of Illinois's cover photo

11/25/2020

Thank you to Professor Michele Deitch for this important resource. Correctional oversight is important regularly; it is critical during the pandemic.

“Locked Out, Looking In: How Correctional Oversight Agencies are Adapting During the COVID Crisis,” is a resource for the correctional oversight community which highlights examples of the many creative ways that prison and jail oversight bodies are managing to gather information about what is happening behind prison walls, despite restrictions and risks involved with accessing the facilities during COVID.

https://repositories.lib.utexas.edu/handle/2152/83748

Thank you to Professor Michele Deitch for this important resource.  Correctional oversight is important regularly; it is...
11/25/2020
Locked Out, Looking In: How Correctional Oversight Agencies are Adapting During the COVID Crisis

Thank you to Professor Michele Deitch for this important resource. Correctional oversight is important regularly; it is critical during the pandemic.

“Locked Out, Looking In: How Correctional Oversight Agencies are Adapting During the COVID Crisis,” is a resource for the correctional oversight community which highlights examples of the many creative ways that prison and jail oversight bodies are managing to gather information about what is happening behind prison walls, despite restrictions and risks involved with accessing the facilities during COVID.

https://repositories.lib.utexas.edu/handle/2152/83748

Great article by Dr. Homer Venters, who notes that, "By thinking about incarcerated people as part of the community that...
11/24/2020
How the CDC can get serious about the health of incarcerated people

Great article by Dr. Homer Venters, who notes that, "By thinking about incarcerated people as part of the community that deserves health protection and promotion, the CDC can do a better job with its COVID-19 response, as well as start to address the longstanding inequities in health for incarcerated people." #prisonhealthISpublichealth #everyonedeservesqualityhealthcare
https://thehill.com/opinion/criminal-justice/527115-how-the-cdc-can-get-serious-about-the-health-of-incarcerated-people

I have spent the past eight months inspecting correctional facilities across the nation to see how well they are responding to COVID-19. The results have been alarming.

One more week until #GivingTuesday!  Help us ensure that those living and working in Illinois' prisons are kept healthy ...
11/24/2020

One more week until #GivingTuesday! Help us ensure that those living and working in Illinois' prisons are kept healthy and safe during this unprecedented time. www.thejha.org/gt2020

The pandemic underscores that prison health IS public health; the coronavirus cannot be contained by walls, fences or ga...
11/17/2020
IDOC death toll rises, one staffer now deceased

The pandemic underscores that prison health IS public health; the coronavirus cannot be contained by walls, fences or gates. JHA extends our condolences to the loved ones of the 36 people who live in or work for IDOC who have lost their lives to the virus. More people must be released; increased testing and more effective cohorting must occur; and PPE must be utilized properly and consistently inside prisons.

https://newschannel20.com/news/local/idoc-death-toll-rises-one-staffer-now-deceased

A staff member for the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) has died from COVID-19. This is the first IDOC staff member to die from the virus, adding to a growing number of deaths inside Illinois correctional centers. The IDOC employee worked at the Vienna Correctional Center in Southern Illino...

11/17/2020
"[JHA's] Vollen-Katz said she is in discussions with the Illinois Department of Corrections to try to arrange a way for ...
11/13/2020
Containing COVID-19: Jails, Prisons Ripe for Spread

"[JHA's] Vollen-Katz said she is in discussions with the Illinois Department of Corrections to try to arrange a way for monitors to enter and observe prison life in the age of the coronavirus, in a fashion that protects both the prison population and the monitors."

https://news.wttw.com/2020/11/12/containing-covid-19-jails-prisons-ripe-spread

Cook County Jail was once the hot spot for the coronavirus, but now the positivity rate is lower there than in Chicago and Cook County. As COVID-19 surges in the community, officials and advocates worry it’ll reach detainees.

Yesterday JHA was thrilled to bring 40+ bags of clothing and coats to IDOC for men and women being released. Thank you t...
11/12/2020

Yesterday JHA was thrilled to bring 40+ bags of clothing and coats to IDOC for men and women being released. Thank you to the many families who generously donated; to our stellar volunteer who collected, loaded and unloaded donations; and to the women at Fox Valley Adult Transition Center who helped bring the bags in and will help sort and distribute the apparel throughout Illinois’ prisons. Weather appropriate and professional clothing help fill a basic re-entry need for our returning citizens.

#GivingTuesday is just around the corner!  Together, we can make a difference for those who are incarcerated.
11/12/2020

#GivingTuesday is just around the corner! Together, we can make a difference for those who are incarcerated.

What did incarcerated people tell us about life behind prison walls during the pandemic?  Read our COVID-19 Prison Surve...
11/05/2020

What did incarcerated people tell us about life behind prison walls during the pandemic? Read our COVID-19 Prison Survey Comment Report to find out. All 13 sections (!) of this report are now available at www.thejha.org/covid19-surveys

Congratulations to St. Leonard's Ministries on being named JHA's Partner of the Year 2020!  Watch to see ED Erwin Mayer ...
11/05/2020
JHA's 2020 Partner of the Year St. Leonard's Ministries - YouTube

Congratulations to St. Leonard's Ministries on being named JHA's Partner of the Year 2020! Watch to see ED Erwin Mayer and Resident Harry Jackson accept this award and talk about our partnership. https://youtu.be/YULKMg9A6D0 We greatly appreciate all you do to help those re-entering our communities.

JHA is proud to recognize St. Leonard's Ministries as our 2020 Partner of the Year! We thank you for your partnership and support of JHA's work in fighting for...

Meet JHA's 2020 Volunteers of the Year and hear why they support criminal justice reform!  Here is Mike Sehr, recognized...
11/04/2020
JHA's 2020 Volunteer of the Year Mike Sehr

Meet JHA's 2020 Volunteers of the Year and hear why they support criminal justice reform! Here is Mike Sehr, recognized for his work with our Prison Response team. Thank you Mike for all you do for JHA! https://youtu.be/xbRdf3mq3EI

JHA is proud to recognize volunteer Mike Sehr with one of our 2020 Volunteer of the Year Awards for his work with our Prison Response team! Thank you for you...

11/04/2020
JHA's 2020 Volunteer of the Year Bailey Pleva

Meet JHA's 2020 Volunteers of the Year and hear why they support criminal justice reform! Here is Bailey Pleva, recognized for his work in Data Management. Thank you Bailey for all you do for JHA! https://youtu.be/eEl3plwWI30

JHA is proud to recognize Bailey Pleva as one of our 2020 Volunteers of the Year for his work in data management! We greatly appreciate your dedication and s...

11/04/2020
JHA's 2020 Volunteer of the Year Judi Dansizen

Meet JHA's 2020 Volunteers of the Year and hear why they support criminal justice reform! Here is Judi Dansizen, recognized for her work in Prison Monitoring. Thank you Judi for all you do for JHA! https://youtu.be/tHwD79mD9_w

JHA is proud to recognize longtime volunteer Judi Dansizen for her prison monitoring assistance! We thank you for your dedication and support of JHA's work i...

New Release:  JHA’s COVID-19 Prison Survey Comment Report: Perceptions and Experiences from People inside Prison during ...
10/30/2020

New Release: JHA’s COVID-19 Prison Survey Comment Report: Perceptions and Experiences from People inside Prison during the Pandemic is based upon 6,000+ pages of comments from incarcerated people and tells us what life is like inside prison during the pandemic. Read the Executive Summary today! https://www.thejha.org/covid19-surveys

Thank you for your support of criminal justice reform, Senator!
10/29/2020
Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins

Thank you for your support of criminal justice reform, Senator!

I want to thank the John Howard Association of Illinois for their tireless work advocating for the rights of the incarcerated. I was honored to be recognized as their 2020 Legislator of the Year. You can view their awards ceremony and the rest of their annual event here. https://youtu.be/JLJs8I8V7NA?t=2374

Thank you to First Lady MK Pritzker & Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton for speaking at JHA's Virtual Annual Event last week...
10/26/2020

Thank you to First Lady MK Pritzker & Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton for speaking at JHA's Virtual Annual Event last week! We appreciate your time & support of criminal justice reform. Missed the event? Watch a recording here: https://thejha.org/virtual-event

Thank you to everyone who supported, attended and/or participated in our Virtual Annual Event last night!  With your sup...
10/23/2020

Thank you to everyone who supported, attended and/or participated in our Virtual Annual Event last night! With your support, the night was a great success. Missed the event? You can watch a recording here: www.thejha.org/virtual-event

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70 E Lake St
Chicago, IL
60601

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