WBEZ | prison http://www.wbez.org/tags/prison Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Report details big problems at Illinois prison for women; state says it's safe http://www.wbez.org/news/report-details-big-problems-illinois-prison-women-state-says-its-safe-111230 <p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-a5e63f9b-53b1-62ff-3b89-808b4b5244cb"><span style="font-size: 16px; font-family: Arial; font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">UPDATED at 9:23 a.m. on Dec. 16, 2014</span></span></p><p><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 16px; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1.15;">A new report out Monday shows major problems at Logan Correctional Center, a prison for women in central Illinois. Those problems include housing units at Logan Prison with a ratio of 156 inmates for one officer. </span></p><p><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 16px; line-height: 1.15; white-space: pre-wrap;">Earlier this year, two suicides took place within 30 days there. And women in segregation told researchers the noise was so loud, they couldn&rsquo;t get anyone&rsquo;s attention for medical treatment.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 16px; line-height: 1.15; white-space: pre-wrap;">John Maki with the John Howard Association, which issued the report, said Logan&rsquo;s problems were exacerbated when the state closed other centers for women and the correctional center in Dwight.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 16px; line-height: 1.15; white-space: pre-wrap;">&ldquo;All we ended up doing was consolidating more people into less space and that has made for very, very poor conditions,&rdquo; said Maki.&ldquo;It was a facility that was not staffed, that was not prepared to meet the needs, you know, of female inmates.&rdquo; </span></p><p><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 16px; line-height: 1.15; white-space: pre-wrap;">At the time of the prison closures, the Illinois Department of Corrections estimated the state was saving about $7 million a month. </span></p><p><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 16px; line-height: 1.15; white-space: pre-wrap;">But the prison is safe for inmates, according to Tom Shaer, a spokesman for the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC).</span></p><p><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 16px; line-height: 1.15; white-space: pre-wrap;">&ldquo;To say that closing Dwight Correctional Center was ill-conceived based on what&rsquo;s happening at Logan, we believe is not at all the case,&rdquo; Shaer said. &ldquo;In fact, the safety and security at Logan has been outstanding.&rdquo; </span></p><p><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 16px; line-height: 1.15; white-space: pre-wrap;">Shaer said there&rsquo;s been one serious assault on staff in the previous two years, which occurred when that employee was breaking up a fight among inmates. In a written statement, he also noted, &ldquo;Medical personnel walk every cell wing to check needs daily and officers are present at all times. It is virtually impossible to be unheard, especially for medical attention.&rdquo;</span></p><p><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 16px; line-height: 1.15; white-space: pre-wrap;">Shaer also said the investigations into the two suicides found they did not occur because of a lack of resources. He said neither inmate had shown evidence of intending to commit suicide - and neither was on suicide watch.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 16px; line-height: 1.15; white-space: pre-wrap;">Logan Correctional Center is also where the majority of inmates with mental health issues are sent. It&rsquo;s in the process of adding 120 beds for inmates with mental health needs, due to litigation over IDOC&rsquo;s mental health services. That project is expected to cost about $8 million.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 16px; line-height: 1.15; white-space: pre-wrap;">&ldquo;It&rsquo;s where we send some of the most mentally ill people in our state and it&rsquo;s simply not staffed for that. There&rsquo;s no real resources for that, which is why it&rsquo;s being sued. Which is why there&rsquo;s a consent decree being worked out, which will cost the state millions and millions of dollars to build that capacity,&rdquo; Maki said. </span></p><p><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 16px; line-height: 1.15; white-space: pre-wrap;">Maki is serving on a small committee to advise Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner about the state&rsquo;s public safety needs.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 16px; line-height: 1.15; white-space: pre-wrap;">&ldquo;We&rsquo;re not trying to paint a rosy picture, but we don&rsquo;t believe that this (report) at all shows that the closing of Dwight was ill-conceived. And it saved the taxpayers tens of millions of dollars while not compromising safety and security at Logan,&rdquo; IDOC spokesman Shaer said.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 16px; font-style: italic; line-height: 1.15; white-space: pre-wrap;">This story was updated to reflect IDOC&rsquo;s response to some claims in the John Howard Association report.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.15; font-size: 16px; font-family: Arial; font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics for WBEZ. Follow him </span><a href="https://twitter.com/tonyjarnold" style="line-height: 1.15; text-decoration: none;"><span style="font-size: 16px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(17, 85, 204); font-style: italic; text-decoration: underline; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">@tonyjarnold</span></a><span style="line-height: 1.15; font-size: 16px; font-family: Arial; font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">.</span></p><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Mon, 15 Dec 2014 05:50:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/report-details-big-problems-illinois-prison-women-state-says-its-safe-111230 Venezuela prison deaths http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2014-12-05/venezuela-prison-deaths-111196 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP409221984728.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Dozens of prisoners in a Venezuelan penitentiary center recently died after overdosing on stolen drugs, according to the government. But Jeremy McDermott of InSight Crime says there is reason to be skeptical of the official story. He tells us why.</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-venezuela-prison-deaths/embed?header=false&amp;border=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-venezuela-prison-deaths.js?header=false&border=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-venezuela-prison-deaths" target="_blank">View the story "Worldview: Venezuela prison deaths" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Fri, 05 Dec 2014 11:24:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2014-12-05/venezuela-prison-deaths-111196 Ex-felon informs formerly incarcerated of right to vote http://www.wbez.org/news/ex-felon-informs-formerly-incarcerated-right-vote-110994 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Ex-Felon2.png" style="height: 210px; width: 280px; float: left; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px;" title="FORCE members and ex-offenders Marlon Chamberlain and Teleza Rodgers meet at a McDonald’s on the city’s west side. They work to notify ex-felons of the right to vote. (WBEZ/Yolanda Perdomo)" />In a back corner at a Chicago McDonald&rsquo;s, Marlon Chamberlain sits and goes through papers under a movie poster. It&rsquo;s from the film &ldquo;The Hurricane&rdquo; the true story of Rubin &ldquo;Hurricane&rdquo; Carter, the famed boxer turned prisoner right&rsquo;s activist.</p><p>There, Chamberlain meets those recently incarcerated who want a new start. Chamberlain is with FORCE, or Fighting to Overcome Records and Create Equality. Chamberlin&rsquo;s job is to talk to ex-prisoners about everything from how to get a job to how to become a community leader. Part of his work includes talking about his past. Specifically the events leading up to September 2002.</p><p>&ldquo;I have a federal offense. I was arrested with conspiracy with intent to distribute and sentenced to 240 months,&rdquo; says Chamberlain. &ldquo;With the Fair Sentencing Act, I ended up serving 10 and a half years.&rdquo;</p><p>He was in federal prison when Barack Obama was elected president in 2008. Chamberlain remembered watching the event and cheering along while the other inmates. But even then, the political process that moved Obama to the presidency was something Chamberlain didn&rsquo;t care much about.</p><p>&ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t believe voting mattered. I didn&rsquo;t see how things could be different or how the mayor or certain state representative could change things in my community. That connection wasn&rsquo;t there.&rdquo;</p><p>After his release, a FORCE member talked to Chamberlain at a halfway house. That&rsquo;s when he started to understand that local lawmakers and not the president decide whether money gets allocated to ex-offender programs and how sentencing guidelines are outlined.</p><p>Chamberlain also learned that ex-felons could vote. In several states, if you&rsquo;re convicted of a felony, you lose the right to vote. Permanently. But in Illinois, an ex-offender can vote upon release. Chamberlain didn&rsquo;t know that. He says lots of people with records don&rsquo;t know that either. Which is why now he&rsquo;s working overtime to get the word out before election day.</p><p>Tucked away between a dead end road and railroad tracks on the city&rsquo;s southwest side, Chamberlain meets with a group of men from the Chicagoland Prison Outreach. They&rsquo;re in a work study program and Chamberlain visits with them on Thursdays. It&rsquo;s part classroom, part bible study and part welding work study. Chamberlain starts the discussion by asking &lsquo;When was the last time anyone voted?&rsquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Ex-Felon1.png" title="Marlon Chamberlain talks to a group from the Chicagoland Prison Outreach about the importance of voting (WBEZ/Yolanda Perdomo)" /></p><p>One person pipes up and says he voted while in jail. He too was told he couldn&rsquo;t vote, but while in the Cook County Jail, inmates awaiting trial can vote. They&rsquo;re given applications for absentee ballots. This year, the Board of Elections processed tens of thousands of new applications. Many inmate applications are rejected, mainly because addresses can&rsquo;t be verified. Out of the more than 9,500 inmates requesting ballots, around 1,300 were deemed eligible.</p><p>A person who goes by the name of Kris says even though he can vote, he&rsquo;s not interested.</p><p>&ldquo;I never cared who was in office,&rdquo; says Kris, &ldquo;I wouldn&rsquo;t even know who to vote for.&rdquo;</p><p>The class tells him he needs to do some homework to know the candidates&rsquo; platforms. Chamberlain echoes the notion of doing a little homework and cautions the class about political stereotypes. Like that all African Americans vote the Democratic ticket.</p><p>&ldquo;Because you got Democrats who won&rsquo;t do nothing. I don&rsquo;t believe in befriending politicians. You know, no permanent friends, no permanent enemies,&rdquo; says Chamberlain. He points to the very room they sit in as a result of some kind<br />of political action.</p><p>&ldquo;So what would happen if people don&rsquo;t vote for the elected official who signed off on this? Then this program goes away,&rdquo; Chamberlain notes. Kris does not care.</p><p>&ldquo;All I see is a lot of squad cars coming around. Our neighborhood, how it was in the past, it was better than how it is now,&rdquo; says Kris. &ldquo; At least we had stuff we could do. We didn&rsquo;t have to stand on the block to have fun. We actually had places.&rdquo; Chamberlain asks Kris if he&rsquo;s ever spoken to his alderman about the problems he sees. Kris shrugs, admitting he&rsquo;s never bothered to make contact. &ldquo;The city is so fou-fou right now. The city ain&rsquo;t right.&rdquo;</p><p>While most people heard a person complaining about problems, Chamberlain heard someone much like himself. A person aware of problems, who knows things could be better. Back at the McDonalds, Chamberlain meets up with FORCE worker Teleza Rodgers. She too, is an ex-felon and covers the city&rsquo;s North Lawndale neighborhood. They talk about how hard it is to get ex-felons motivated to vote. Especially since many of them live the misconception that their voting rights were taken away from them when they went to prison.</p><p>&ldquo;People who don&rsquo;t know us are making decisions about our lives or livelihoods and our neighborhoods. They don&rsquo;t live where we live at,&rdquo; says Rodgers. &ldquo;They (ex-felons)<br />tend to have an ear to that. I say we can&rsquo;t expect to have anyone do anything for us if we&rsquo;re not doing it.&rdquo;</p><p>Rodgers says there&rsquo;s no way around the impact of voter representation. And that several questions on November&rsquo;s ballot can directly impact ex-felons and others in Chicago. Like whether the state should increase funding for mental-health services, whether a school-funding formula for disadvantaged children should be reset, and whether to increase the minimum wage.<br />&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 27 Oct 2014 10:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/ex-felon-informs-formerly-incarcerated-right-vote-110994 Exoneree Diaries: Antione helps as his son learns a hard lesson http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/exoneree-diaries-antione-helps-his-son-learns-hard-lesson-110528 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/antione_0_0_1_1.png" alt="" /><p><p><em>&ldquo;It was a secret from me that he even got in trouble. If they had told me from the beginning, I would have told him don&rsquo;t talk to no police and make no statement. Cuz they&rsquo;ll use it against him.&rdquo;</em><br /><br /><strong>ANTIONE&rsquo;S SON NEEDED</strong> a lawyer.</p><p>Krishon, a senior football player at Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant, Okla., was weeks away from graduating in 2013, when he and four other teammates faced criminal charges.</p><p>They had faked robberies as an April Fool&rsquo;s Day prank on their friends.</p><p>Fingerprinted, Krishon was incredulous &ndash; how did he get here?</p><p>When Antione was shuttled off to prison two decades earlier, Krishon was a tot. When Antione was released, Krishon had just finished the eighth grade.</p><p>Over the years, Krishon had never really known why his father was in prison, let alone the circumstances of his wrongful conviction. And when Antione won his freedom, he didn&rsquo;t reveal much more to his son, except to warn him to be careful, to not get himself into any situations.</p><p>Almost ten years later, Krishon was in a situation.</p><p>&ldquo;I found out in the eleventh hour,&rdquo; Antione said after learning of Krishon&rsquo;s arrest and suspension from school. &ldquo;I want him to learn something from this. When I talk to him, I&rsquo;m the old man. But when you&rsquo;re in hot water, when your ass is on the line, then you call Superman.&rdquo;</p><p>In the early morning hours of April 2, after a series of innocuous pranks all day, Krishon and four friends, decided to scare their friends. They dressed in dark clothing and covered their faces with masks fashioned from a pillow case.<br /><br />They were black. The city of Durant, mostly white. The targets of their prank &ndash; first, other teammates. But later on, their white girlfriends.<br /><br />The young men banged on doors, busted in, yelled and pretended their cell phones were guns so convincingly that police reported one of the victims (a friend) saying he saw two 9 mm handguns, black in color.</p><p>There were no guns, and no one was physically harmed. But the girls were terrified.</p><p>&ldquo;Maybe other people could get away with pretending to be criminals, black people can&rsquo;t do it. It was a big deal down here,&rdquo; a local minister told Chicago Sun-Times writer Mary Mitchell, who covered the story after the NAACP sued Southeastern Oklahoma State University for its handling of the case.<br /><br />After a police investigation ensued, along with rumors about what had really happened, the five players turned themselves in.<br /><br />&ldquo;You tried to scare little white girls&rdquo; is what Krishon says an officer told them during their interview.</p><p>The officer also memorialized the statement in his report, albeit with a different tone: &ldquo;When speaking to one of the parties above I asked if he knew that he scared a lot of young ladies with the prank. He laughed and said it wouldn&#39;t have been funny if they wouldn&#39;t have been. He said it was just a prank taken too far.&rdquo;</p><p>Krishon had long tried to stay out of trouble, and above all, he never wanted to do time like his father.</p><p>&ldquo;I feel stupid for putting myself in a situation where I had to go to jail because I told myself I never would,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>After their suspension from the university, the students appealed. It seemed ill-fated from the start. Krishon overheard a board member say to a professor that &ldquo;he would have shot them if they had<br />knocked on his door.&rdquo;</p><p>Meanwhile, the district attorney for the 19th District of Oklahoma wanted to prosecute. Antione paid for a lawyer.<br /><br />Months later, the players were offered several plea deals. Krishon rejected all of them. But when his mom started talking about getting a new lawyer, he decided it was time to take the punishment and move on.<br /><br />The students ended up with about a month of jail time, part of a 90-day sentence, plus three years of probation and a couple thousand dollars in court fees.</p><p>Jail was about what Krishon had imagined. He felt angry, as he had imagined. He worked odd jobs, as he had imagined. The guards were on a power trip, as he had imagined.</p><p>&ldquo;It wasn&rsquo;t something I&rsquo;d ever do again,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>Krishon left jail with about a semester of college to redo. He would have to finish his business marketing degree somewhere else.</p><p>Until then, he would earn a paycheck as a counselor at a fitness center and use his athletic expertise to help people get in shape.</p><p>And every month, as his court fees would come due, he would pay up and feel mad at himself all over again.</p></p> Fri, 18 Jul 2014 16:52:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/exoneree-diaries-antione-helps-his-son-learns-hard-lesson-110528 Exoneree Diaries: 'Take it one block at a time' http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/exoneree-diaries-take-it-one-block-time-110480 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/antione_0_0_1_0.png" alt="" /><p><p><em>&ldquo;This is my neighborhood. I grew up here. I know everybody. I know the kids, The people in the community, the stakeholders, kind of respect me because I&rsquo;m active. You don&rsquo;t have drug deals on the corner right here. You don&rsquo;t have none of that because even the guys in the street respect me. Because it just ain&rsquo;t going to happen. Sometimes you have to put your foot down. I ain&rsquo;t the damn police neither.&rdquo;</em></p><p>Antione walked past his childhood home. His stepdad still lived there.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re naming the block after my mom,&rdquo; he mentioned.</p><p>Brick bungalows lined the street. Signs with big red X&rsquo;s marked the homes that were empty, a warning to firefighters that the structure could collapse.</p><p>Antione couldn&rsquo;t take two steps in Chicago&rsquo;s Austin neighborhood without getting stopped by acquaintances. He spent most of his time there, fixing up old properties in the year since his wife and kids moved out of their four-bedroom home in Villa Park, about a half hour away.</p><p>&ldquo;How you doing? You alright?&rdquo; Antione called over to a neighbor.</p><p>At an intersection, Antione halted in his tracks and smiled as a man named Johnny stopped his car and jumped out to greet him, leaving his car in the middle of the road.</p><p>Johnny, a weathered short man, walked toward Antione. His blue pearlescent studded boots clicked on the pavement.</p><p>They exchanged pleasantries as another friend, whom Antione had gone to kindergarten with more than 40 years ago, drove past them. Now, the neighborhood&rsquo;s underpopulated schools were targets for closure. The Chicago Teachers Union had been rallying all week.</p><p>Johnny&rsquo;s face turned somber as he talked to Antione, mid-road.</p><p>&ldquo;When I decide to change, I mean it,&rdquo; Johnny told him, peering past his ball cap. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t wanna be like I used to. You know, man? It&rsquo;s scary.&rdquo;</p><p>Johnny had spent the last two months living in a community house.</p><p>&ldquo;I became a criminal in the house,&rdquo; he said, shaking his head. &ldquo;You ever become a criminal in a house where you at, where you trying to stay clean?&rdquo;</p><p>Antione, averse to substances, couldn&rsquo;t relate. He had a drug arrest on his record, prior to his wrongful conviction, but says the stuff was planted because he was mouthing off to police.</p><p>&ldquo;One of the reasons I&rsquo;m wanting to do that house is guys like yourself that are trying to change and better themselves,&rdquo; Antione said about the Life After Justice building. &ldquo;Find it difficult when you living with people that&rsquo;s not trying to change.&rdquo;</p><p>Johnny had been on disability since 1989, he said, and it wasn&rsquo;t enough for him to live on.</p><p>&ldquo;I mean disability is only nothing,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I need more than that! C&rsquo;mon, you can&rsquo;t make it! I want to get off disability and work!&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;And you can,&rdquo; Antione said. &nbsp;&ldquo;But can you work? What kind of work would you do?&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s a good question,&rdquo; Johnny shook his head. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t know.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;So you need to think about that,&rdquo; Antoine told him.</p><p>A kid emerged from around Johnny&rsquo;s parked car and asked Antione for a light.</p><p>&ldquo;No.&rdquo;</p><p>The kid walked away.</p><p>&ldquo;He wants a light so he can light a joint. These kids is crazy,&rdquo; Antoine said, turning back to Johnny.</p><p>They talked about rising up and changing the neighborhood.</p><p>&ldquo;Take it one block at a time,&rdquo; Antoine said.</p><p>&ldquo;You and me, we walk together.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Alright, bra&rsquo;, take care of yourself, man!&rdquo;</p><p>Johnny got back in his car and drove off. Antione lapped the corner and walked to the prospective Life After Justice property, a temporary house that Antione hoped to live in when the organization found a permanent spot. &nbsp;He hired a few guys to help him out.</p><p>Inside the house, patches of hardwood peeped through construction scraps and a tarp covering the kitchen and common area.</p><p>&ldquo;We have beautiful wood floors,&rdquo; he explained.&rdquo; I just left this down so they don&rsquo;t scuff them all up.&rdquo;</p><p>He planned to sand and revarnish the floors and doors then paint the walls. Antione had a friend who worked for a paint company and brought him some free cans.</p><p>&ldquo;A bed there, a bed there, a bed there,&rdquo; Antione pointed to different angles of the same small bedroom.</p><p>The kitchen would be a popular spot, as many guys coming out of prison have learned how to cook for the masses. Antione would assign somebody to cook meals for the exonerees because he didn&rsquo;t believe in having everybody cooking and using the kitchen at once. It&rsquo;s dangerous and unclean, he said.</p><p>Downstairs, music from a boom box blared, and a pot full of wet dog food sat on the ground &ndash; for Hannibal, Antione&rsquo;s dog who had one blue eye and liked to tear holes in the wall when he wasn&rsquo;t chained in the backyard.</p><p>&ldquo;They&rsquo;ve had to repair the same spot twice,&rdquo; Antione said.</p><p>Bedrooms connected to bedrooms. One room would be his. It was dark and dusty. He envisioned a Jacuzzi tub all to himself.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m by myself now,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t need no three-bedroom house no more.&rdquo;</p><p>His young kids, when they visited, would stay in the connecting rooms, what used to be the house&rsquo;s boiler room. One side for the little girl, one side for the two boys. He needed to tear down a wall to open up the space and rip out the cedar cabinets, saving them for the kitchen.</p><p>Antione had hoped the temporary Life After Justice house would be ready before the 11<sup>th</sup> anniversary of his release from prison. But the crew had gone too slowly, he said, despite pushing his guys to finish on time.</p><p>&ldquo;I wanted to prove to Laura that I could do this in 30 days, 60 days,&rdquo; he sighed. &ldquo;It can happen.&rdquo;</p><p>Then, another setback. Someone had stolen all the wiring in the house. He knew who had done it and confronted the guy.</p><p>&ldquo;Told him I didn&rsquo;t have it,&rdquo; Antione said. &ldquo;He brought it back.&rdquo;</p></p> Fri, 11 Jul 2014 07:59:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/exoneree-diaries-take-it-one-block-time-110480 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