WBEZ | prison http://www.wbez.org/tags/prison Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Exoneree Diaries: Antione's jam band http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/exoneree-diaries-antiones-jam-band-110388 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/antione_0_0_1.png" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>&ldquo;People really don&rsquo;t understand it when you see a guy and he&rsquo;s not behind a bar or he&rsquo;s not in a blue uniform or a gold uniform, and you&rsquo;re just free and you able to socialize and somebody not tell you can&rsquo;t talk to him. It&rsquo;s great. It&rsquo;s a family. You know? We are a family.&rdquo;</em></p><p><strong>ANTIONE HAD A HEAD COLD,</strong> and his voice was hoarse. He bundled himself in a navy blue pullover on the chilly February night.</p><p>He was set to go on stage within minutes at the $100-a-ticket event at Buddy Guy&rsquo;s Legends, a famous Chicago blues club, for the Illinois Bar Foundation&rsquo;s annual Battle of the Bands fundraiser.</p><p>Feasting on trays of barbecue and an open bar, the after-work crowd was starting to feel good &ndash; lawyers, judges and law students. A handful of exonerees attended, including James Kluppelberg, who stood toward the side of the hall, finding it difficult to carry on a conversation over the chatter and noise.</p><p>The roster of dueling bands consisted of a couple ensembles of lawyers and judges with legal pun names: The Objections and DisBard. But Antione&rsquo;s band had a simple name and premise: Exoneree Band, formerly incarcerated and exonerated guys. The group was one of two bands Antione liked to jam with from time to time. Antione and his buddy Raymond Towler were two of the Exoneree Band regulars, playing at other fundraisers and events.</p><p>Towler lived in Ohio where he spent almost 30 years of life sentence behind bars for a rape and kidnapping that he did not commit. In May 2010, a judge ordered his release, choking back tears. Towler was 24 when he was wrongfully convicted, and 52 years old when he won his freedom. At Buddy Guy&rsquo;s, a thick gray beard covered Towler&rsquo;s face as he tuned up his guitar while his girlfriend shot video from a handheld camera, standing mid-crowd.</p><p>The president of the Illinois Bar Foundation took the stage and called on Laura Caldwell, who jumped up and took the microphone to introduce the exonerees.</p><p>&ldquo;Raymond Towler, who served almost 30 years,&rdquo; Laura began, pausing as the crowd clapped.<br />&ldquo;Antione Day, who served 10 years for a murder he didn&rsquo;t commit.&rdquo;</p><p>Exoneree Band opened with &ldquo;Mustang Sally&rdquo;, collecting yelps from the crowd. Antione introduced the next song, shaking his head and apologizing for his weak voice that he had lost three days earlier.&nbsp; The band had only practiced for four hours, he told the crowd, as guitar chords lightly strummed, filling the empty space between songs.</p><p>&ldquo;They call it stormy Monday, Tuesday&rsquo;s just as bad,&rdquo; Antione sang softly. His voice registered just above a whisper, and he played the drums. &ldquo;Lord, and Wednesday&rsquo;s worse, and Thursday&rsquo;s all so sad.&rdquo;</p><p>Antione took a break on the vocals as the band played an instrumental number. Towler had written the song for a friend still on the inside.</p><p>&ldquo;For a guy who didn&rsquo;t get out of jail,&rdquo; Antione told the crowd.</p><p>By the end of the set, Antione had warmed up his voice and started to smile, feeling the music. He clicked his drumsticks to kick off the next song. The guitarists weren&rsquo;t sure when to come in, but Antione didn&rsquo;t let up, clicking away until they joined him.</p><p>Towler mouthed to the bassist, &ldquo;Wrong chord.&rdquo; Antione chimed in, his voice gaining strength to Otis Redding&rsquo;s song, &ldquo;Sittin&rsquo; on the Dock of the Bay.&rdquo;</p><p>The cheers masked the cracks in Antione&rsquo;s voice as it grew louder and stronger by the final song. &ldquo;Glory, Hallelujah!&rdquo; he sang, wrapping up the more than half-hour set.</p><p>The host took the stage again, shouting above the audience&rsquo;s applause: &ldquo;Let&rsquo;s hear it for the Exonerees!&rdquo;</p></p> Fri, 20 Jun 2014 14:35:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/exoneree-diaries-antiones-jam-band-110388 Exoneree Diaries: How Jarrett Adams rebuilt his life after prison http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/exoneree-diaries-how-jarrett-adams-rebuilt-his-life-after-prison-110381 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/antione_0_0_0.png" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>&quot;After all the lights and the cameras has shut down, life begins. It kicks in in a very neutral position because you don&rsquo;t know which way to go, what to do or how to get it done. Exonerees have no services that they qualify for. They have no reentry programs that they qualify for. &hellip;The reentry programs are designed to help guys once they return from prison, but exonerees don&rsquo;t have that opportunity.&quot;</em></p><p><strong>ANTIONE KEPT RUNNING INTO JARRETT ADAMS</strong>, a young Wisconsin exoneree who was from Chicago, at events coordinated by Loyola University&rsquo;s Life After Innocence program. About 20 years Antione&rsquo;s junior, Jarrett had only been out of prison for a handful of years.</p><p>Like Antione, a wrongful conviction robbed him of his youth. In September 1998 Jarrett was two months shy of 18 when he and two friends traveled from Chicago to Wisconsin to attend a party. The three teens returned with a false accusation of rape. The racially-charged case resulted in Jarrett&rsquo;s conviction in 2000, and it carried a 28-year prison sentence. With the help of the University of Wisconsin&rsquo;s Innocence Project, Jarrett was exonerated seven years later on evidence that his state-appointed attorney failed to investigate and secure witnesses who<br />could have cleared him.</p><p>&ldquo;You sit, hope and wish for the day to come and when it finally gets here. You&rsquo;re so exhausted that you really want to just move on,&rdquo; Jarrett remembers.</p><p>He walked back into the world without any living, medical or financial assistance from the state of Wisconsin. He wore a jogging suit purchased from the commissary and orange shoes provided by the jail. He had $30 left on his account &ndash; and was later charged $16 for the rubber-soled canvas shoes.</p><p>Jarrett slept on a couch at his mother and stepfather&rsquo;s place. They were both seniors living on fixed incomes. With a nearly 10-year gap in his resume, and his last known address being a super-max, Jarrett couldn&rsquo;t find work.</p><p>&ldquo;The news of my conviction and it being overturned was a click of a button away on Google,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>Jarrett turned to academics, attending junior college and later enrolling at Roosevelt University, where he graduated with honors. He landed a job working as a full-time federal defense investigator. Next came law school at Loyola, where Jarrett quickly became the face of various media and outreach efforts &ndash; his story played to the school&rsquo;s mission.</p><p>&ldquo;Everyone is talking about &lsquo;Wow, he&rsquo;s in law school &ndash; this is great!&rsquo;&rdquo; Jarrett says. &ldquo;But no one really knows that I&rsquo;m still paying on debts that were incurred as a result of being locked up and wrongfully convicted.&rdquo;</p><p>In Wisconsin, the compensation statute for exonerees is one of the weakest in the country, offering up to $25,000 to those who can prove that they didn&rsquo;t bring about their own wrongful conviction. Jarrett received nothing.</p><p>&ldquo;All the charges were dismissed, and so now you&rsquo;re asking me to come back around and prove that I was absolutely innocent? That was a standard that it didn&rsquo;t even take for me to be found guilty!&rdquo;</p><p>Prior to becoming a student at Loyola, Jarrett crossed paths with Laura Caldwell, executive director of Life After Innocence, who had worked on Antione&rsquo;s certificate of innocence petition, helping to clear his name. She introduced the pair.</p><p>It wasn&rsquo;t until an Innocence Network conference, in a hotel lobby in the company of another exoneree, that Antione and Jarrett shared their stories of release from prison, struggling to find work and sleeping on their mothers&rsquo; couches. They both knew of other exonerees who didn&rsquo;t even have that much. They knew guys who were sleeping in drug houses or signing contracts with family members to give up some of their future compensation (if any) for a roof over their head.</p><p>Antione told Jarrett about his idea, the one he had shared with his mother before she passed, to create a home for exonerees where they could escape the pressures of the real world. Jarrett thought they could also provide resources to help these exonerees reenter society. No such state-funded programs exist in Illinois for exonerees upon release.</p><p>&ldquo;We found it to be therapeutic to share our stories with each other,&rdquo; Jarrett says. &ldquo;And it gave birth to the idea of Life After Justice [their non-profit organization] and preventing our struggles from becoming everyone else&rsquo;s.&rdquo;</p></p> Thu, 19 Jun 2014 17:05:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/exoneree-diaries-how-jarrett-adams-rebuilt-his-life-after-prison-110381 Morning Shift: Aftercare pilot up against challenges http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-06-11/morning-shift-aftercare-pilot-against-challenges <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/FlickrTulane Public Relations.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Today, we continue part two of our discussion on the efforts to prevent young kids from returning to prison. We also get some soul sounds from Reclaimed Soul. And, later we remember a Chicagoan whose passion was old school soul music.</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-aftercare-pilot-up-against-challenge/embed?header=false&amp;border=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-aftercare-pilot-up-against-challenge.js?header=false&border=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-aftercare-pilot-up-against-challenge" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Aftercare pilot up against challenges " on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Wed, 11 Jun 2014 07:46:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-06-11/morning-shift-aftercare-pilot-against-challenges On day of his bond, Chicago man's actions lead to 25 more years in prison http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/day-his-bond-chicago-mans-actions-lead-25-more-years-prison-109861 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/DSC_9918.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Twelve years ago, gang member Carlos &ldquo;Bear&rdquo; Rocha of Chicago&rsquo;s Southwest Side was imprisoned for possession of a weapon. On the day of his bond, he and another inmate had a disagreement that turned tragically violent. Bear was sentenced to another 25 years behind bars. It wasn&rsquo;t until Bear&rsquo;s brother suffered a similar fate&mdash;in prison on the day of his own release&mdash;that Bear realized the full consequences of his actions.</p><p><strong>CARLOS:</strong> I broke down because I thought that it was karma for what I had done. I thought that it was punishment for taking some else&rsquo;s life here.</p><p dir="ltr">To find out how Bear is trying to mend his ways and reckon with the past, check out the audio above.</p><p><em>Meredith Zielke is a WBEZ producer.&nbsp;</em></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Fplaylists%2F6250422" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Fri, 14 Mar 2014 12:09:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/day-his-bond-chicago-mans-actions-lead-25-more-years-prison-109861 Chapter 5: Jacques' adventure http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/chapter-5-jacques-adventure-109340 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/jaques_0_0_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>&quot;I love the snow. Wintertime is my favorite time of year. It was just beautiful, standing around the rocks, standing by the edge.&rdquo;</em></p><p><strong>&ldquo;HOW COME YOU HAVEN&rsquo;T</strong> had a license in 20 years?&rdquo; the driving test proctor asked.</p><p>Jacques told her his story. He had been telling it a lot.</p><p>He was nervous behind the wheel again, but his older sister Linda had let him take her car around the block a time or two for practice. It felt strange. All the buttons on the dashboard surprised him whenever they lit up.</p><p>Just like riding a bike, he kept saying to himself. But the parallel parking wasn&rsquo;t.</p><p>&ldquo;Let&rsquo;s just go back,&rdquo; the proctor told him. &ldquo;You&rsquo;ll do just fine.&rdquo;</p><p>It was the written portion of the test, infamous in Illinois, that was the most difficult.</p><p>&ldquo;The signs were hard!&rdquo; Jacques says.</p><p>He passed, and Linda let him drive back home.</p><p><strong>ANOTHER SISTER </strong>Candida, the youngest of six siblings, flew in from California after the New Year, a few months after Jacques&rsquo; release. She had faithfully visited him about twice a year during his incarceration &mdash; one time unsuccessfully, on his birthday when the prison suddenly went on lockdown.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s his birthday!&rdquo; Candida had cried in the parking lot. &ldquo;And he&rsquo;s in this crappy-ass place! I came all the way from California. I&rsquo;m right here, and I can&rsquo;t get in.&rdquo;</p><p>So it took some getting used to, seeing him in the flesh. No pat-downs, no long wait.</p><p>Candida came to Chicago to take Jacques on a trip across the country. They called it their &ldquo;Donnie and Marie Adventure.&rdquo; They were close like the Osmonds, and people told Candida that she looked just like Marie.</p><p>Jacques felt ready for the undertaking, eager for some open air away from the cramped apartment he shared with his mother.</p><p>The adventure started at the airport. Jacques had never been on a plane before.</p><p>&ldquo;He was very nervous,&rdquo; Candida remembers.</p><p>Jacques sat next to the window, headphones on, eyes shut.</p><p>He didn&rsquo;t ask for anything to drink.</p><p>&ldquo;You&rsquo;re not going to get anything to drink?&rdquo; Candida asked him.</p><p>&ldquo;No, I don&rsquo;t want to get up.&rdquo;</p><p>He chewed his gum to stay calm, a habit not unique to the plane ride.</p><p>&ldquo;His gum is his thing,&rdquo; his sister Rose attests. &ldquo;He just loves gum. In prison they couldn&rsquo;t have gum.&rdquo;</p><p>For the next three months of the Donnie and Marie Adventure, he chewed his gum almost nonstop.</p><p><strong>THE FIRST STOP</strong> for Jacques and Candida was the Grand Canyon. It was snowing, magnificently.<br /><br />Jacques couldn&rsquo;t believe the cactus everywhere. It seemed more like a movie than real life.<br /><br />&ldquo;He loved it,&rdquo; Candida says.</p><p>Las Vegas was another story. Jacques didn&rsquo;t gamble, and the crowds put him on edge. He didn&rsquo;t feel secure. He was overwhelmed, paranoid.</p><p>Even more of a damper was put on the trip when Jacques left his cell phone in a taxicab. A family friend, his grade school sweetheart, had given him the phone soon after his release.</p><p>&ldquo;You&rsquo;re gonna need this,&rdquo; she had said, putting him on her plan and even upgrading him.</p><p>They called every Las Vegas cab company they could find, but had no luck recovering the phone.</p><p>&quot;I was furious because I have no phone,&quot; Jacques remembers. &quot;I lost my contacts and everybody that I called.&rdquo;</p><p>He also lost pictures of the new memories he had created since being out.</p><p>But a chance meeting and photo opportunity with famed Chicago Bears player Brian Urlacher cheered him up.</p><p>&ldquo;Hey, Brian!&rdquo; Jacques casually said to the linebacker as he passed by the taxi stand they were waiting in outside Caesar&rsquo;s Palace.</p><p>His sister didn&rsquo;t see him.</p><p>&ldquo;Brian? Who&rsquo;s Brian? Who do you know named Brian?&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Brian Urlacher!&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Brian Urlacher?!&rdquo; Candida jumped out of the line to find him.</p><p>The night of his release, media cameras had captured shots of Chicago Bears apparel sported by<br />Jacques and his sons. Jacques was draped in a Chicago Bears jacket. One of his sons wore an Urlacher jersey, and the other gave his dad a Walter Payton jersey as a homecoming present. Shortly thereafter, a Chicago TV sports program hosted Urlacher and asked him about having that kind of impact. He was blown away.</p><p>Candida had to find him for her brother.</p><p>&ldquo;You go this way! I&rsquo;ll go this way!&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Jacques followed orders, but was wary of separating.</p><p>They were told he went inside a tent in the hotel courtyard where a Vaudeville-style show &ldquo;Absinthe&rdquo; was to go on.</p><p>Candida bought tickets for the show. They got inside, but couldn&rsquo;t spot him. Finally, an usher helped them out.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m not supposed to tell you, but there&rsquo;s a gentleman meeting that description right behind you,&rdquo; the usher whispered.</p><p>Candida approached Urlacher and apologized for interrupting. Would he let them have a photo?</p><p>Absolutely. They even stayed for the show.</p><p><strong>THE FINAL LEG</strong> of Donnie and Marie&rsquo;s adventure was back in Dana Point, Calif., where Candida lived. She took him to Hollywood and at a Venice Beach souvenir shop, Jacques bought a trophy, shaped like an Oscar, with the words &ldquo;World&rsquo;s Best Lawyer.&rdquo; For Jane.</p><p>Candida welcomed Jacques into her church in nearby Laguna Beach. The parishioners of Saint Mary&rsquo;s Episcopal Church had been praying for Jacques over the past year as he neared his unexpected release, and they were excited to meet him.</p><p>&ldquo;They were expecting a thug,&rdquo; Candida remembers. &ldquo;A lot of them have never encountered somebody like Jacques. They were expecting what you see on TV. So when they saw him, they thought he was well-mannered, polite, well-spoken. They were very amazed.&rdquo;</p><p>The bishop, visiting one Sunday, brought him up to the altar to join her in the final blessing.<br />Jacques was touched, almost in tears.</p><p>Candida&rsquo;s priest was able to pull some strings and get Jacques a brief meeting with Father Greg<br />Boyle, the Jesuit priest who founded Homebody Industries, a program that works with former gang members, helping them break free and move on with their lives. Candida had bought him a signed copy of Father Greg&rsquo;s book, &ldquo;Tattoos on the Heart,&rdquo; in which the priest recounts his two decades working with homies in Los Angeles.</p><p>Jacques, a former Latin King, passed down to him by his father, had left the gang life behind in prison. A newfound faith like Jacques&rsquo; was the only way the Kings would let someone go; otherwise, an exit could be dangerous.</p><p>He was able to leave without incident. But back on the outside, ghosts from his past tried to catch up with him.</p><p>&ldquo;Hey, what&rsquo;s up, Brother? Amor!&rdquo; they would say to him back in Chicago.</p><p>&ldquo;Don&rsquo;t say that to me, man,&rdquo; Jacques answered, shaking his head. He was through with gang love.</p><p>Turned out their tour guide at Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles had the same kind of story.</p><p>&ldquo;Before I was this thug and gang member,&rdquo; he told them. &ldquo;Now I&rsquo;m the assistant director of this place. I used to have gang members in my cell phone. Now I have the mayor of L.A. in my cell phone.&rdquo;</p><p>A new kind of rank, Jacques thought, picturing himself. One that reforms, redeems.</p><p><strong>THE ADVENTURE HAD LASTED THREE MONTHS</strong> when both brother and sister knew it was time to go. Candida needed to get back to her life, and Jacques missed being home in Chicago. The two had been practically inseparable, except for a men&rsquo;s Bible study here and there that Jacques would attend with church folks.</p><p>Jacques made the trip back alone. At the airport, Candida talked to an agent to see if she could accompany him through the concourse before saying goodbye.</p><p>&ldquo;He really doesn&rsquo;t want to be by himself,&rdquo; she explained. &ldquo;Can I go through security with him?&rdquo;</p><p>Candida got to see him off at the gate. As he walked away from her on to the jetway, she envisioned herself walking away from him, as she had many times, painfully, after many prison visits.</p><p>&ldquo;Every time we would go visit him, I hated leaving,&rdquo; Candida says. &ldquo;We would go up the stairs. He wouldn&rsquo;t leave until he couldn&rsquo;t see us anymore.&rdquo;</p><p>Candida would always turn around and look back at him. Jacques would be there, waving and saying &ldquo;Bye! I love you!&rdquo; with a wide grin stretched across his face.</p><p>From the jetway, Jacques turned around, looked back at his sister and waved. She waved back and watched until she could no longer see him.</p></p> Tue, 10 Dec 2013 13:02:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/chapter-5-jacques-adventure-109340 Morning Shift: Coping with life after prison http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-09-16/morning-shift-coping-life-after-prison-108682 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/prison - Flickr - decade_null.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>We check in with Gabe Klein to assess the Divvy bike share program. What are the hits and misses? Also, journalist Alison Flowers discusses her new WBEZ series &quot;The Exoneree Diaries&quot;, and one of the exonerees she profile shares his story.</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-65/embed?header=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-65.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-65" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Coping with life after prison" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Mon, 16 Sep 2013 08:28:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-09-16/morning-shift-coping-life-after-prison-108682 Former inmate brings yoga to Chicago’s West Side http://www.wbez.org/news/former-inmate-brings-yoga-chicago%E2%80%99s-west-side-108571 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/130830_Austin Yoga 1_kk.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A man who spent nearly half of his life in prison for murder is opening a yoga studio in one of Chicago&rsquo;s more violent West Side neighborhoods.</p><p>Marshawn Feltus hopes his new yoga studio will bring peace to the troubled streets of Austin.</p><p>On a summer day, Feltus walked past boarded-up buildings and groups of people clustered on front stoops and street corners.</p><p>He and two staff members wore matching t-shirts and carried yoga mats.</p><p>They regularly recruit people this way for their yoga studio -- the first in Austin.</p><p>The first group he approached just blankly stared at him from the front porch they were sitting on, but he pulled a teenage boy aside and started talking to him.</p><p>Feltus told his story to everyone he ran into along Chicago Avenue that day. Within a few minutes of recruiting, he had a six-foot-tall former inmate reaching high into the air and breathing deeply.</p><p>He says he knows what young people on the streets are going through because he was a gang member 20 years ago -- in the same neighborhood.</p><p>Feltus was in a gang, and what started out as an argument and fistfight over territory, ended with him seeking retaliation.</p><p>He shot a guy twice and killed him.</p><p>&ldquo;The crime I committed was some of the most senseless violence -- much of what you see today,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>That&rsquo;s one of the reasons he recruits on the streets of Austin.<br />&ldquo;I have a specific and a personal mission for the young black males -- to show them there&rsquo;s more to their lives than just hanging out on the street corner,&rdquo; said Feltus.</p><p>But Feltus didn&rsquo;t make that connection right away. He spent the first half of his sentence the same way he lived on the street -- being angry and getting into fights, he said.</p><p>About halfway through his sentence, two things changed, said Feltus.</p><p>He found new meaning in a faith he grew up with, even though he can&rsquo;t point to a specific instance, he said.</p><p>&ldquo;It was an accumulation. It happened in bits and pieces,&rdquo; said Feltus.</p><p>Around the same time, he said he and the other prisoners started watching another inmate stretching in the yard. They tried to guess what he was doing.</p><p>&ldquo;We called him Buddha. We actually thought he was really weird at first. He&rsquo;d be out in the yard doing these strange poses,&rdquo; said Feltus.</p><p>Buddha, whose real name is Bartosz Leszczynski, invited Feltus to his prison yoga classes, but Feltus wasn&rsquo;t exactly looking to change his ways.</p><p>But Buddha was persistent.</p><p>&ldquo;Finally, I went to my first yoga class in prison and I could have married yoga,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>He said the soothing practice was different than anything he had ever done.</p><p>Soon after, Buddha was transferred to another prison and asked Feltus to take over his class.</p><p>Feltus would teach anywhere between 20 to 200 inmates at a time. They would use state-issued towels instead of yoga mats.</p><p>A noted psychiatry and violence prevention expert sees the value in the practice.</p><p>Dr. Carl Bell thinks Feltus can reach young people on the West Side through mastering an art that teaches discipline and breath control.</p><p>&ldquo;You have a model that works to help you calm down and relax, you&rsquo;ve got a skill which gives you a sense of power over your own body. So, it doesn&rsquo;t matter where you&rsquo;re from,&rdquo; said Bell.</p><p>After being released from prison two years ago, Feltus worked at Bethel New Life on North Lamon Avenue, where he went from a volunteer janitor to store manger of one of the community center&rsquo;s retail stores.&nbsp;</p><p>But yoga was his passion and within two years of being released from prison, he completed an <a href="http://ttp://bethelnewlife.org/our-investments/community-economic-development/business-development/" target="_blank">entrepreneurship training program</a> at Bethel while taking classes to become a certified yoga instructor.</p><p>He graduated from the entrepreneurship training program a day after he was laid off at Bethel due to restructuring, he said.</p><p>But that only gave him more time to focus on starting his own yoga studio.</p><p>He held the first class earlier this month at Bethel, in a chapel with stained glass windows.</p><p>Feltus taught the group of six students from a stage overlooking them.</p><p>Two long-time Austin residents, Deloris Bingham and Sarah Evans, practiced yoga next to each other.</p><p>After class, the women talked about what having a yoga studio in their own community means to them.</p><p>Bingham said she hopes the studio succeeds because she hopes it will help return the neighborhood to what it was.</p><p>&ldquo;When I was raising my children when I first got the home, about 30 years ago, it was nothing like this, no shooting everyday, are you serious? Killing kids and stuff -- they don&rsquo;t care,&rdquo; said Bingham.</p><p>Evans said she thinks yoga can help stop the violence she sees in parts of her neighborhood.</p><p>&ldquo;When you take time to focus on yourself, you don&rsquo;t have time for all this craziness out here, yoga promotes peace within. And when you got peace within, you got peace without,&rdquo; said Evans.&nbsp;</p><p>Feltus said he hopes ACT Yoga -- which stands for awareness, change and triumph -- will provide a safe place for the neighborhood and a different way to deal with aggression, just like it did for the prisoners he taught.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;When we made the call to breathe in, you exhale and let it all go. When you come to yoga, that&rsquo;s what you are,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>When doing yoga with the prisoners, all their differences dissolved -- there was no race and no gangs, said Feltus.</p><p>And he said he&rsquo;s excited to bring that to people in the Austin community, especially young black men, because he said he&rsquo;s been where they are now.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t feel like I&rsquo;ll be able to go out and save the world, but if I could just grab me a few guys every day or every week and get them to see it -- that&rsquo;s my contribution,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Katie Kather is an arts and culture reporting intern at WBEZ. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/ktkather" target="_blank">@ktkather</a>.</p></p> Fri, 30 Aug 2013 10:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/former-inmate-brings-yoga-chicago%E2%80%99s-west-side-108571 Morning Shift: Is it fair for established filmmakers to use Kickstarter? http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-08-14/morning-shift-it-fair-established-filmmakers-use <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Spike Lee-Flickr- thomas.rome_.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Kickstarter originally began as a way to get the average person&#39;s project out of the shadows, but now bigwigs are using it to fund their pet projects. Is this fair? Also, a chat with R&amp;B and blues artist Syleena Johnson.</p><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-43.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-43" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Is it fair for established filmmakers to use Kickstarter?" on Storify</a>]</noscript></p> Wed, 14 Aug 2013 08:32:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-08-14/morning-shift-it-fair-established-filmmakers-use Morning Shift: Cleaning streets and bringing business to Chicago's neighborhoods http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-08-06/morning-shift-cleaning-streets-and-bringing-business <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Gray Stone - Flickr - zenia.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Ald. Brookins proposed a new ordinance dishing out hefty fines for littering. Will this be the tactic that stops people from tossing their trash in the streets? And, Mayor Emanuel has identified seven struggling neighborhoods as &quot;opportunity neighborhoods&quot;. What are his plans?&nbsp;</p><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-36.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-36" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Cleaning streets and bringing business to Chicago's neighborhoods" on Storify</a>]</noscript></p> Tue, 06 Aug 2013 08:23:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-08-06/morning-shift-cleaning-streets-and-bringing-business House lawmakers dispute interests of having crowded prisons http://www.wbez.org/news/house-lawmakers-dispute-interests-having-crowded-prisons-107198 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/illinois prison.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A controversial measure that would change how the U.S. Census counts Illinois prison inmates is advancing in Springfield.</p><p>The census counts Illinois&rsquo; prison inmates as residents of the town the prison is in, not the town they came from.</p><p>That population can affect a region&rsquo;s eligibility for government money.</p><p>State House members narrowly approved a bill Wednesday saying the state will start keeping track of an inmates&rsquo; last known address for census purposes.The measure passed with the bare minimum of favorable votes, 60-55.</p><p>The bill&rsquo;s passage upset Republican State Rep. Chad Hays from Danville, which has a prison that currently holds about 1,800 inmates, according to the Illinois Department of Corrections.</p><p>&ldquo;I just lost 2,000 residents,&rdquo; Hays said after the vote.</p><p>He sarcastically said he&rsquo;ll start sending expenses to the City of Chicago for projects paid for with government money.</p><p>But State Rep. Monique Davis of Chicago suggested those who have prisons in their districts have a financial interest in keeping their prisons full.</p><p>&ldquo;Let&rsquo;s see how many enhanced penalty bills will pass, let&rsquo;s see how many new bills were put in the criminal code if that population is no longer valuable to certain groups,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>The measure still needs the support of the Senate.</p><p><em>Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics for WBEZ. Follow him @<a href="http://twitter.com/tonyjarnold" target="_blank">tonyjarnold.</a></em></p></p> Thu, 16 May 2013 07:22:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/house-lawmakers-dispute-interests-having-crowded-prisons-107198