Criminal justice en Rooted in justice <div class="field field--name-field-letter-box-story-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <img loading="lazy" src="/sites/default/files/22Fall-Allen-Rooted-justice.jpg" width="2000" height="993" alt="" class="img-responsive" /> </div> <span><span>rsmith</span></span> <span>Wed, 11/02/2022 - 18:37</span> <div class="field field--name-field-caption field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Howard Zehr, AM'67, united his criminal justice reform work and passion for photography with this portrait series featuring people serving life sentences. Zehr photographed his subjects in 1996 and again in 2021 for the books <em>Doing Life</em> and <em>Still Doing Life</em>. (All photography by Howard Zehr, AM’67)</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refauthors field--type-entity-reference field--label-visually_hidden"> <div class="field--label sr-only">Author</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field--item"> <div> <a href="/author/susie-allen-ab09"> <div class="field field--name-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field--item">Susie Allen, AB’09</div> </a> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refsource field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/publication-sources/university-chicago-magazine" hreflang="en">The University of Chicago Magazine</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issue field--type-text field--label-hidden field--item">Fall/22</div> <div class="field field--name-field-subhead field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>The “grandfather of restorative justice” looks back on a career spent advocating for change.</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>In 1978 <strong>Howard Zehr</strong>, AM’67, was asked to lead a new program in the Elkhart, Indiana, probation department. The Victim Offender Reconciliation Program, as it came to be called, facilitated conversations between crime victims and offenders.</p> <p>Zehr was wary. As a scholar of crime and an advocate for criminal justice reform, he felt uncertain about working inside the machine he had spent years critiquing. He worried, too, that spending time with victims would make it more difficult for him to fight on behalf of offenders trapped in what he saw as an unjust system.</p> <p>Witnessing the conversations changed Zehr’s view of criminal justice. The Elkhart program focused on crimes such as burglary that are considered nonviolent, but Zehr noticed that many victims experienced burglary as a violent crime. They felt violated, and they wanted answers. Why my house? Why that day? If I had walked in, would you have killed me? Are you sorry? Courts, which focus on determining guilt and handing out punishment, offer no time for such questions.</p> <p>The criminal justice system didn’t just fail offenders, Zehr realized. It failed victims too. The conversations taking place in Elkhart did what the legal system couldn’t: they allowed victims to express their pain and offenders to reckon with the harm they had done. The program “shook up my world,” Zehr says. “That’s when I began to rethink everything I thought I knew about justice.”</p> <p>He saw in victim-offender interactions the beginnings of a new approach to harm and its aftermath that he later called <em>restorative justice</em>—a process that, in his words, aims to “collectively identify and address harms, needs, and obligations, in order to heal and put things as right as possible.”</p> <p>Zehr has been called “the grandfather of restorative justice” and is proud of the label, but quick to qualify it. The idea of accountability through conversation has deep roots: many Indigenous groups around the world have for centuries used community dialogue to resolve conflict. Zehr sees himself not as an inventor of restorative justice but rather as a communicator on its behalf.</p> <figure role="group"><img alt="Howard Zehr" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="71229da8-c102-47b3-9779-cf3692ce689a" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/22Fall-Allen-Rooted-justiceSpotA_0.jpg" /><figcaption>Howard Zehr, AM’67, a self-portrait. </figcaption></figure><p><strong>Zehr has always been a talker.</strong> Growing up in Indiana, he was a ham radio enthusiast who spent hours chatting with new friends from around the world. “I was learning to network—a skill which would turn out to be vocationally important,” he wrote in a recent essay.</p> <p>Zehr’s commitment to justice and compassion has even deeper roots. He was raised in a socially conscious Mennonite household, and his family’s life centered on faith. Zehr’s father, Howard Sr., was a pastor, and his mother, Edna, wrote articles for the Mennonite publication <em>Christian Living</em>.</p> <p>Howard Sr.’s work introduced Zehr to figures including Vincent Harding, AM’56, PhD’65, also a Mennonite minister. Harding, who would go on to write several of Martin Luther King Jr.’s speeches, stayed with the Zehrs several times. “I have a very distinct memory,” Zehr says, “of sitting at the dining room table while Vincent tried to help this naive White kid understand something about racial justice.”</p> <p>But Zehr knew understanding was less important than doing. The Mennonite tradition emphasizes “taking Jesus’s word seriously for action in the world,” Zehr explains, “as opposed to just believing things.”</p> <p>So, shortly after enrolling at Goshen College in the early 1960s, Zehr decided that transferring to a historically Black institution was the right way for him to concretize his commitment to anti-racism. He applied to Morehouse College and was accepted.</p> <p>There were a handful of other White students at Morehouse, but most enrolled for a single exchange semester and were seen by the rest of the student body primarily as interlopers. Zehr worked hard academically to show he was taking the experience seriously and tried to absorb as much as he could about race, racism, and privilege. He found a mentor in the college’s president, Benjamin Mays, AM 1925, PhD’35, who helped Zehr secure a scholarship from the NAACP Legal Defense Fund—“as a minority student,” he notes wryly.</p> <p>After Morehouse, not knowing what else to do with himself, Zehr enrolled at the University of Chicago for graduate school in history. His master’s thesis, later expanded into a doctoral dissertation at Rutgers University and then a book, was a statistical analysis of crime in France and Germany in the 19th century. (<em>Crime and the Development of Modern Society: Patterns of Criminality in Nineteenth Century Germany and France</em> was rereleased in 2020 by Routledge. “Apparently,” Zehr says, sounding as surprised as anyone, “it became kind of a classic in the history of crime and the use of quantitative materials.”) In 1971 he joined the history faculty at Talladega College, a historically Black liberal arts college in Alabama.</p> <p>While teaching at Talladega, Zehr became involved with legal defense work and prisoners’ rights efforts—natural outgrowths of his religious commitments, academic expertise in crime, and anti-racism efforts. In 1978, needing a change from teaching and feeling more drawn to social justice work, Zehr decided to leave academia and move back home to Indiana. After a short period directing a halfway house, he began leading Elkhart’s Victim Offender Reconciliation Program.</p> <p>He spent the next four decades working to articulate and advance restorative justice, first through the Mennonite Central Committee, the church’s peace and relief organization, and then as a faculty member at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. He wrote about “RJ,” as it came to be abbreviated—his book <em>Changing Lenses: A New Focus for Crime and Justice</em> (Herald Press, 1990) is now in its third edition—taught it, and helped policy makers around the world implement it.</p> <p>He consulted with leaders in New Zealand, for example, as they overhauled the country’s juvenile justice system and devised a new process that blends restorative practices and traditional Maori approaches to conflict resolution. Under the updated system, if a young person is accused of a serious crime and doesn’t deny it, they are typically referred by the Youth Court to a family group conference—a structured meeting involving the offender and his or her family, social workers, and police, as well as victims and their supporters. The conference results in a series of recommendations for how the offender can make amends. Defended hearings—akin to a trial—are generally reserved for cases where the offender denies guilt.</p> <p>To Zehr, this best-of-both-worlds approach allows restorative justice to focus on victims and their needs, and the Western legal tradition to do what it does best: adjudicate guilt and innocence. Other restorative justice proponents take a different view and would prefer to see restorative approaches sit outside of—or even replace—police, courts, and prison.</p> <p>However victim-offender dialogues happen, they can be powerful for all involved. Sometimes the conversations help offenders experience true remorse for the first time; Zehr remembers the case of a serial rapist who said that talking to one of his victims allowed him to understand the ramifications of his actions in a way that neither prison nor therapy had done. Often, by meeting offenders, victims can let go of fears they’ve carried for years.</p> <p>Over the past decade, restorative justice has become something of a buzzword, leading to misunderstanding and misuse. Ironically, Zehr, who was initially so nervous about working with crime victims, finds that many programs billed as restorative don’t focus enough on victims and their needs. Because restorative justice is often proposed from the left and by advocates of criminal justice reform, it is sometimes dismissed as soft on crime and offenders. But being less punitive, in Zehr’s view, isn’t the same thing as being soft: many offenders describe meeting with victims as painful—and a form of punishment in itself.</p> <p>Alongside these misinterpretations, Zehr also watched his ideas grow in unexpected ways. He learned recently that the Smithsonian Institution has created a Center for Restorative History that partners with people and communities who have been harmed by their portrayals in museums or simply excluded from them. His students and mentees have “gone on and taken it to whole new arenas that I never even imagined,” Zehr says, “far surpassing anything that I would have done.”</p> <p>Since 2013, when he retired from teaching, Zehr has intentionally taken a less active role in the restorative justice movement. Instead he’s been focused on other interests while he allows a new generation to carry the work forward.</p> <p>Zehr has always loved photography and found ways to incorporate it into his work; his books <em>Doing Life: Reflections of Men and Women Serving Life Sentences</em> (Good Books, 1996) and <em>Still Doing Life: 22 Lifers, 25 Years Later</em> (The New Press, 2022) feature portraits of prisoners serving life sentences. Now he’s begun doing volunteer work as a hospice photographer. He’s still writing—mostly technical articles for ham radio operators, a welcome return to his childhood hobby.</p> <p>Zehr borrows a phrase from the writer Barry Lopez in describing his current outlook: “Hopeful, but not optimistic.” He has seen criminal justice reform efforts wax and wane and interest from politicians come and go. Ultimately he thinks smaller-scale, community-based programs have the best chance of promoting accountability and healing in the aftermath of crime.</p> <p>The tension between optimism and realism has been with Zehr from the beginning. In the afterword to <em>Changing Lenses</em>, he admitted that he sometimes found his own ideas impossibly utopian when considering “my own anger, my own tendencies to blame, my own reluctance to dialogue, my own distaste for conflict.”</p> <p>But, he went on, “I believe in ideals. Much of the time we fall short of them but they remain a beacon, something toward which to aim, something against which to test our actions. They point a direction.” We can always decide which way to walk.</p> <p><img alt="Photography by Howard Zehr" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="8d4d0b4f-ff45-48d3-b0ed-eff161a07219" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/22Fall-Allen-Rooted-justiceSpotB.jpg" /></p> <h2>What is restorative justice?</h2> <p><em>In a 2014 interview, reprinted in the forthcoming book </em>Restorative Justice: Insights and Stories from My Journey<em> (Walnut Street Books), Zehr summarized his vision for restorative justice.</em></p> <p>The criminal justice system tends to ask three questions:</p> <ul><li>What laws were broken?</li> <li>Who did it?</li> <li>What do they deserve?</li> </ul><p>Everything focuses around making sure offenders get what they deserve. That is usually punishment.</p> <p>There is nothing for the victim because the victim isn’t really a part of the criminal justice system. The crime is considered to be against the government, against the state.</p> <p>Restorative justice changes the questions. It asks:</p> <ul><li>Who’s been hurt in the situation?</li> <li>What are their needs?</li> <li>Whose obligation [is it to address those needs]?</li> </ul><p>Restorative justice focuses on needs and obligations and not so much on what the offender deserves. The victim is just as important as the offender in this process.</p> <p>Restorative justice turns the situation so that the victim’s needs are addressed and the offender’s obligations are discussed and worked with. The whole concept is based on the reality that we humans are rooted in relationships, and that relationships matter.</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-reftopic field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/topics/law-policy-society" hreflang="en">Law, Policy &amp; Society</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/prison" hreflang="en">Prison</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/criminal-justice" hreflang="en">Criminal justice</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/restorative-justice" hreflang="en">Restorative justice</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refuchicago field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/graduate-alumni" hreflang="en">Graduate alumni</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refformats field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/formats/profile" hreflang="en">Profile</a></div> Wed, 02 Nov 2022 23:37:05 +0000 rsmith 7650 at Abiding convictions <div class="field field--name-field-letter-box-story-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <img loading="lazy" src="/sites/default/files/21Summer_Allen_AbidingConvictions.jpg" width="2000" height="1000" alt="COVID-19 quarantine tier of Cook County Jail" title="COVID-19 quarantine tier of Cook County Jail" class="img-responsive" /> </div> <span><span>rsmith</span></span> <span>Thu, 07/29/2021 - 18:16</span> <div class="field field--name-field-caption field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>The COVID-19 quarantine tier of Cook County Jail, where Miller once worked as a chaplain. (Zbigniew Bzdak/Chicago Tribune/TNS)</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refauthors field--type-entity-reference field--label-visually_hidden"> <div class="field--label sr-only">Author</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field--item"> <div> <a href="/author/susie-allen-ab09"> <div class="field field--name-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field--item">Susie Allen, AB’09</div> </a> </div> </div> <div class="field--item"> <div> <a href="/author/reuben-jonathan-miller"> <div class="field field--name-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field--item">Reuben Jonathan Miller</div> </a> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refsource field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/publication-sources/university-chicago-magazine" hreflang="en">The University of Chicago Magazine</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issue field--type-text field--label-hidden field--item">Summer/21</div> <div class="field field--name-field-subhead field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Punishment doesn’t end after incarceration, writes Crown Family School associate professor Reuben Jonathan Miller, AM’07.</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>There’s a figure <a href=""><strong>Reuben Jonathan Miller</strong></a> often cites when talking about life after incarceration: 45,000. That’s the approximate number of federal, state, and local laws, policies, and sanctions regulating where Americans returning from jail and prison can live and work, who they can live with, and how they can spend their time. Homecoming is a gift and an obstacle course of almost unimaginable complexity, one in which a single error may come at the cost of freedom.</p> <p>Miller, AM’07, an associate professor at the <a href="">Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice</a>, has spent the past 15 years studying mass incarceration and its reverberations, but he has lived with the problem for much longer, as he discusses in his book <a href=""><em>Halfway Home: Race, Punishment, and the Afterlife of Mass Incarceration</em></a> (Little, Brown, 2021): “I simply could not write this as some detached observer because I am close to this book, and I am close to the people in it.” His father and two of his brothers have all served time.</p> <p><em>Halfway Home</em> reflects Miller’s constellation of experiences with the prison industrial complex, melding ethnographic research with narrative and autobiography. This approach allowed him to show not just the fact of social exclusion for the formerly incarcerated but also the feeling of it—and that, he says, “allows the reader to assess whether or not I’m right.”</p> <p>The book deepens and extends an argument Miller has made throughout his academic career: that mass incarceration and mass supervision (that is, probation and parole) have created a separate class of citizens who are, as he has described it, “amputate[d] … from the social body.” The disconnection deprives them of the things they most urgently need after release—income, shelter, community, and safety.</p> <p>The idea that people leaving jail and prison need safety too is one that our society resists, Miller says. In the months since <em>Halfway Home</em> was published to wide acclaim, he’s been invited to talk with policy makers around the country about how to address people’s postincarceration needs. “I’m happy to and grateful for the opportunity to,” he says. “But the thing that I keep seeing that’s absent is a view of these people as vulnerable and in need of protection.” Individuals who commit crimes, he points out, are also victimized at very high rates.</p> <p>Many of the formerly incarcerated people Miller follows in <em>Halfway Home</em> held the dual identity of perpetrator and victim, though they were reluctant to acknowledge it—they could discuss their own crimes more easily than those committed against them. But as Miller got to know them better, they divulged life stories forged in violence, including, commonly, childhood physical or sexual abuse.</p> <p>A central theme of <em>Halfway Home </em>is the violence incarceration itself does to families. Half of the people in prison have minor children, and many incarcerated women are their children’s primary caregivers. Miller describes the toll of imprisonment in these cases as “family separation,” language that he says intentionally evokes the outcry surrounding immigration policies separating parents from children at the US border. He was glad to see the outrage “in relation to these precious children,” and wanted to show that family separation has deep roots elsewhere in American life—for children of enslaved people, for indigenous children, and today for children of incarcerated parents. “What does it mean to have done this so much that it’s routine?” Miller asks.</p> <p>And routine it is—along with nearly everything about incarceration and supervision. Another statistic that Miller cites often is the number of Americans with a family member who has been incarcerated: one in two. “So this story is an American story,” he says.</p> <p>Rewriting it will not be simple. “Punishment looks like the cultures in which it’s embedded,” Miller argues. “The reason why we have the scale of incarceration that we do is because we think about the Other in the way that we do.”</p> <p>He’s studied incarceration abroad, including in Serbia where prisons (while plagued by their own serious problems) are less socially isolated than in the United States. Privileges such as intimate visits or family visits outside the prison are more common, reflecting cultural beliefs around the importance of sexuality and togetherness. A different justice system emerges from a different set of assumptions about humanity and who’s allowed to claim it.</p> <p>That doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be accountability. It’s essential for people who caused harm “to look harm right in the face,” Miller argues. That’s part of why he is drawn to restorative justice, an approach that emphasizes repairing the harm caused by crime, sometimes through meetings between victims, perpetrators, and other affected community members.</p> <p>“There are a number of organizations that do this beautifully,” he says, citing one that brings together mothers whose children are incarcerated for crimes, including gun violence, and mothers whose children died from gun violence. “That’s a blueprint we can borrow from.”—S. A.</p> <hr /><p><img alt="Cover of Halfway Home: Race, Punishment, and the Afterlife of Mass Incarceration (Little, Brown, 2021)" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="f01f6dfa-6a80-48c0-8d43-b2ac00a4d3f6" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/21Summer_Allen_AbidingConvictions_SpotA.png" /><em>In the below passages from </em>Halfway Home<em>, Miller explores the toll of incarceration on family relationships, including his own. He tells the story of one of his research participants, Jimmy (a pseudonym), who is out of prison after a three-year sentence for grand larceny. Jimmy has been living intermittently with his on-and-off girlfriend, Cynthia, but feels conflicted: he knows he doesn’t love her, but he has no place else to go.</em></p> <p><strong>When was the last time you saw your mother?”</strong> I asked Jimmy as I sat across the table from him at the Coney Island diner.</p> <p>“I don’t really come around like that,” he replied. Jimmy certainly needed his mother. He was homeless. He was in drug treatment, doing his best to stay clean and sober. And Jimmy was Ruth’s baby, the youngest of her five children. She would have taken him in. But he and Ruth both knew that she would be evicted if she did. He’d decided to avoid her because she wanted to help.</p> <p>“I understand,” I said. I asked about Cynthia again. “Too much drama,” he told me.</p> <p>We finished the meal as he talked about his job hunt and his relationship with his parole officer and how his treatment was going and how it felt to be “free.” I paid the bill and handed Jimmy the bus card and the forty dollars I gave him at the completion of each interview. I dropped Jimmy off at the construction site and made my way home.</p> <p>The next time we connected, Jimmy had changed his tune about Cynthia. He was sleeping at her house more often, away from the drafty, sometimes damp, almost always too hot or too cold buildings he gutted. And he told me that her sister had stopped insulting him. They got along better. I wondered why. It turned out Cynthia had had a stroke, her fifth, and was in what Jimmy called a convalescent home. This made him sad. He was no more attracted to her than he had been a few months before, but now they were making plans to get married. Marriage, he said, was the only way he could secure an apartment. He also said he wanted to help Cynthia make decisions about her medical care. But Jimmy wasn’t happy. He described the upcoming marriage as a debt. “She stuck with me in prison. I’ll stick with her now.”</p> <p>In a moment of reflection about his life and his relationships, Jimmy said, “I feel needy.” I asked if he thought his relationships would have been the same had he not gone to prison. Jimmy sipped the last of his weak diner coffee and finished chewing his toast. “No,” he said, signaling the end of our conversation.</p> <figure role="group"><img alt="Father and daughter visiting at the California Men’s Colony in San Luis Obispo" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="52107129-240c-49c4-a02e-ff438bb4b5bd" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/21Summer_Allen_AbidingConvictions_SpotB.jpg" /><figcaption>A father and daughter reunite during a rare opportunity for family visitation at the California Men’s Colony in San Luis Obispo. Family separation during and after incarceration is a major theme of Reuben Jonathan Miller’s (AM’07) book <em>Halfway Home</em>. (Mario Anzuoni/Reuters/Newscom)</figcaption></figure><p><strong>In a lecture I gave at a legal aid convention</strong>, I talked about citizenship in the supervised society, where thousands of laws dictated where and with whom a previously incarcerated person could work or live and what it meant for the law to come between a person who has been incarcerated and the people he cared for most. I discussed how law and policy granted many kinds of people immense power over the lives of people with criminal records. I told Jimmy’s story about Cynthia, whom he slept with but didn’t love, the woman he was going to marry out of a sense of obligation, or need, or desperation—the one to whom he owed a debt. And I talked about the way his sister treated him and how he had to rely on people he barely knew just to meet his basic needs. I talked about what an economy of favors looked like and, more important, what it felt like. How it showed up in Jimmy’s life. How it changed his perception of himself. How the power that others had over him changed the nature of his relationships.</p> <p>An attorney, flanked by two colleagues who were also public defenders, came up to speak with me at the end of my talk. Sheila, who did most of the talking, had worked for years in housing law, representing clients in central Illinois, almost all of whom were facing eviction. Many had criminal records. Many more had children who had done time. “In the private sector,” she said, “if a landlord has decent housing to provide, they probably won’t even rent to someone with a criminal record. . . . But there are plenty of landlords who do, [and they] rent to people with extensive records or people [they know who are involved in] criminal activities. ... But often times,” she said, “those places aren’t fit for people to really live in.”</p> <p>I had heard as much from dozens of previously incarcerated people, that it was nearly impossible for them to find a place to live regardless of their credit or income. And they told me the conditions in the apartments they found were unbearable. Vermin. Rusty water. Broken appliances. Lights and electric sockets that didn’t work. Some places were dangerous in other ways. They were next to crack houses, or they were in neighborhoods where the police rode through to make arrests but didn’t have a real presence otherwise. The schools were the worst in their districts. Nothing ever worked. The landlords abused their rights, and the tenants had little or no recourse.</p> <p>Sheila said, “I had this client a few years back. This was my first day in a new office. We have things known as emergency cases. You drop everything,” she explained. She represented a tenant who had withheld his rent, citing the conditions of the unit.</p> <p>“The landlord turned off water, utilities, all that madness,” she said. “To me and everyone else [who works in tenants’ rights,] that’s what we call a lockout emergency. [You] run to the courthouse, get a restraining order,” she said. “It’s illegal for a landlord to shut off the utilities, even for nonpayment.” It was called a breach of the warranty of habitability, she told me.</p> <p>Landlords have a legal obligation to ensure a unit is habitable. No one could reasonably be expected to live in a place with no running water.</p> <p>“The only defense,” Sheila said, “was that my client had an extensive record. Professor Miller!” she said, raising her voice. “I mean the record was <em>ex-ten-sive</em>.” She assured me his convictions were “awful” without saying what they were. “But he’s still a person,” she said. “He still has rights.”</p> <p>The case went on for over a year. Eventually, there was a ruling. Tenants have rights, and Illinois, according to many landlords I’ve spoken with, is a tenant-friendly state. The landlord was in the wrong and the client had a history of paying his rent on time. But her client had a record.</p> <p>“You can always use those records to impute credibility,” Sheila told me. “The judge found he wasn’t credible,” she said, meaning that after a year in court and a clear violation of her tenant’s rights, the client didn’t have the grounds to bring a lawsuit <em>because</em> he had a record. The conditions of the apartment and the actions of the landlord didn’t matter in this case. In fact, Sheila said, “he wants <em>me</em> sanctioned for representing someone not worthy of legal aid assistance!”</p> <p>We spoke again a few months later, this time over the phone. “I had this epiphany,” she said. “I care about my clients. I want them to have housing and be content. But sometimes we’ll prepare an agreement that says, ‘So-and-so’—meaning a loved one with a record—‘is not allowed to live here. So-and-so is barred from the premises.’ But quite frankly, where is So-and-so supposed to go?”</p> <p>Sheila asked if she was part of the problem. With so much at risk, sometimes telling a mother to evict her child was the best legal advice she could give.</p> <figure role="group"><img alt="Reuben Jonathan Miller" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="17b20495-6193-4330-acd6-6cff0271d314" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/21Summer_Allen_AbidingConvictions_SpotC.png" /><figcaption>Reuben Jonathan Miller, AM’07, has both scholarly and familial experience with the costs of mass incarceration. (Crown Family School)</figcaption></figure><p><strong>I was twenty-eight when I met my father.</strong> I’d heard his voice maybe once before, but we hadn’t had a conversation. I learned who he was only through an acquaintance’s chance encounter with someone else. I got a phone call from a woman who went to my church and who was about my age. The woman, who was a hairdresser, said she’d met a man who looked just like me. He was working at a barbershop not far from her home. She’d gotten his number. He must have thought she was flirting. I called the number. The man turned out to be my brother Stephen, the eldest of my father’s five sons.</p> <p>I didn’t know how I felt when I heard Stephen’s voice on the other end of the line. He asked about my side of the family and gave me my father’s phone number. I’m not quite sure why I called. I wasn’t particularly curious about my father. It didn’t matter much to me what he looked like. I never thought about the life he might have made for himself or why he wasn’t around. This is also what separation does. My grandmother raised me. I hadn’t experienced my father’s absence as a loss. But I mustered up enough curiosity to make the call. By the next week, I was in a car riding shotgun with Janice on our way to his home.</p> <p>The drive felt long. I didn’t understand the west side of my own city. I’d lived with my brother for a few months in the very same neighborhood, but that was years before. Nothing felt familiar. I don’t remember much of what I was thinking, but I do remember I was nervous and felt somehow guilty for feeling that way. Perhaps I had some distant sense of obligation. I had a family of my own, and there was something that told me I should meet this man whose voice I couldn’t remember.</p> <p>We pulled up to a large, white frame house not far from the Austin neighborhood where, years later, I would do some of the research for this book. Two of his boys, my brothers whom I had not met, sat out front. Inside, I met my sister, whom I vaguely remembered. And my stepmother had a kind face. She was warm.</p> <p>Janice and I had been together for three years. I was so glad she’d come with me. We took a seat on the couch, making small talk with my stepmother as I waited for a man I had never seen. I wasn’t sure what to expect.</p> <p>He wore overalls, or maybe jeans. (This memory seems so long ago.) And he seemed big, but not fat and not particularly tall—maybe five eleven. He was bald and was about my complexion. I don’t remember whether or not he had facial hair. I was lanky then, six two, maybe a hundred and ninety pounds, and still growing into a man’s body. But it was clear to me, as it was to Janice, that this man was my father.</p> <p>We did not shake hands at first or hug. I can’t remember what pleasantries were exchanged. I mostly watched him watch me for what felt like quite a while. Then, as I do with my youngest son now, who at fourteen is already six one, he moved toward me quickly, put his hands on my shoulders, and spun me around. He seemed to smile, watching me twirl in front of him. Was this pride? I had been to college but had not yet finished. I had a job, was about to be married, and had children of my own. He directed me outside, where we walked and talked in what I remember to be an open field. And I remember it was sunny, maybe spring. And while I still can’t remember what his voice sounded like, I remember what he said.</p> <p>“Man, I’m sorry for all that shit,” he told me, referring to the group homes and the poverty and the experiences he might never understand. Some things are best left unspoken. I didn’t say much at all. I don’t typically talk much around people I don’t know. But I learned a lot that day. He had just gotten out of prison, again. By then he had done twenty years off and on, earning the title “Big Soul,” a retired member of the Black Souls street gang. He said that he’d had no idea that we were in foster care or that my grandmother died and that I had been on my own for over a decade. He did know that two of my brothers had done time because he thought at one point he’d done time with Jeremiah. He apologized for mistreating him, saying he was ashamed. Something about Jeremiah acting soft and my father pretending not to know him. “I didn’t stick up for him,” he said.</p> <p>I was angry now, which I wasn’t before. Janice says I looked like I was standing over him, my chest out. I wanted to ask him, What did my brother need sticking up for? Did they beat him? Did they rape him? or say something like, The one time you could have done something! But I couldn’t form words. A moment passed. I looked down and moved on, mumbling something like, “It’s cool,” and after my father made some promises I didn’t expect him to keep, Janice and I left.</p> <p>We lost touch shortly thereafter. I wasn’t emotionally invested enough to pursue him. I’m not sure he wanted to be pursued. But I did call my brother back. His phone was disconnected. I tried to call the barbershop where he worked. A man answered; the owner, I suppose. When I asked for him, he said he no longer worked there. “Your brother is in jail,” he said.</p> <p>Sixteen years passed before I heard from Stephen again. It was April 5, 2020. My state, like many others, was under a shelter-in-place order due to the COVID-19 pandemic. My stepmother, the one with the kind face, had sent a request to Jeremiah through his Facebook account. My father had died in August, and she was hoping to reach his sons.</p> <p>Idid not know my father, but his incarceration had a profound effect on my life. I don’t believe that we would have been close had he never gone to prison, but I know my brothers followed him there. I don’t know what his presence might have meant for his boys, but I know that my grandmother raised us alone. This is the afterlife of mass incarceration. It is the separation from the people you care for or have been told you should. And this is family separation, even if others can’t or refuse to see it. Even if you’ve moved on with your life, and even if you didn’t experience it as a loss, and even if, or perhaps especially if, it takes many years to notice the effects.</p> <p>The people I met lost children, and they lost them for so many reasons: A missed appointment. A social worker came by the house, and the landlord hadn’t exterminated in months. Someone had an addiction. Someone had a gun. Someone had one too many convictions. Someone was in jail too long. Some of this was justified; some of it was harder to explain. In the end, their children were taken, and there was nothing they could do.</p> <p>The grandmothers lost children, too, in some of the same ways they lost their lovers. Some were buried, and some were buried but still alive, incarcerated for so many years. The fathers and mothers lost friends, even friends they’d known forever, because their loved ones did something wrong or because they were sent away. The children lost their parents. Some of the parents were made to leave. Some were taken away. In the end their families were separated, and their lives would never be the same.</p> <p>In a supervised society, the prison and the jail and the law frays our closest ties. It pulls our families apart. It did this to Jimmy, and it did it to me, and it does this to millions of families. And while this happens in so many different ways and to so many different kinds of people, once the law gets between families, they are never quite the same.</p> <hr /><p><em>Excerpted from Reuben Jonathan Miller’s </em><a href="">Halfway Home: Race, Punishment, and the Afterlife of Mass Incarceration</a><em>, published by Little, Brown and Company, a division of the Hachette Book Group.</em></p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-reftopic field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/topics/law-policy-society" hreflang="en">Law, Policy &amp; Society</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/incarceration" hreflang="en">Incarceration</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/mass-incarceration" hreflang="en">Mass incarceration</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/criminal-justice" hreflang="en">Criminal justice</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/prison" hreflang="en">Prison</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/faculty-research" hreflang="en">Faculty research</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refformats field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/formats/excerpt" hreflang="en">Excerpt</a></div> Thu, 29 Jul 2021 23:16:30 +0000 rsmith 7490 at Out of the shadows <div class="field field--name-field-letter-box-story-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <img loading="lazy" src="/sites/default/files/18_Winter_Golus_Out_of_the_Shadows.jpg" width="2000" height="1000" alt="" class="img-responsive" /> </div> <span><span>admin</span></span> <span>Fri, 02/09/2018 - 15:55</span> <div class="field field--name-field-caption field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>(Illustration by Tomás Serrano)</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refauthors field--type-entity-reference field--label-visually_hidden"> <div class="field--label sr-only">Author</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field--item"> <div> <a href="/author/carrie-golus-ab91-am93"> <div class="field field--name-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field--item">Carrie Golus, AB’91, AM’93</div> </a> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refsource field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/publication-sources/university-chicago-magazine" hreflang="en">The University of Chicago Magazine</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issue field--type-text field--label-hidden field--item">Winter/18</div> <div class="field field--name-field-subhead field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>According to Hollywood legend, Eliot Ness, PhB’25, brought down Al Capone. The reality is more complicated.</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>It’s hard to imagine how anyone ever thought Prohibition would work.</p> <p>When the 18th Amendment took effect at 12:01 a.m. on January 16, 1920, it criminalized what had been the fifth-largest industry in the country. Yet the unpopular law failed to reduce alcohol consumption; possibly drinking even increased. For 13 long years, Prohibition turned the United States into a nation of scofflaws.</p> <p>Buying and consuming alcohol were not technically illegal, but the manufacture, sale, and distribution was. Countless otherwise law-abiding citizens owned or worked in illegal liquor businesses. Women were arrested in record numbers, overwhelming the justice system; before Prohibition, there was no federal prison for women.</p> <p>Prohibition agents were almost universally despised, especially in large cities. Corruption in the Prohibition force was rampant; innocent citizens were occasionally shot or killed because they were mistaken for bootleggers or hit in the crossfire.</p> <p>And yet, somehow, Prohibition agent Eliot Ness, PhB’25, was seen as a hero, the man who saved Chicago from evil gangster and bootlegger Alphonse “Scarface” Capone.</p> <p>“It begins to look as if Chicago’s reputation for law enforcement was largely in the hands of destiny,” journalist Priscilla Higinbotham gushed in the <em>Chicago Herald and Examiner</em> in 1931. “For it was merely by chance that Eliot Ness, whose investigations have been so instrumental in the indictment of Al Capone and sixty-eight of his choicest hoodlums, joined the Prohibition force.”</p> <figure role="group"><img alt="Eliot Ness and Kevin Costner as Eliot Ness" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="d607e655-e1c9-4538-ae56-21c74e759b7d" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/18_Winter_Golus_Out_of_the_Shadows_SpotA_0.jpg" /><figcaption>In Brian De Palma’s 1987 film The Untouchables, Eliot Ness (left, at his Bureau of Prohibition desk around 1930) was portrayed by Kevin Costner (right), and the “careful unsensational investigator” became an action hero. (Left to right: HISL018 EC086/Courtesy Everett Collection; MSDUNTO EC034/©Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection)</figcaption></figure><p><strong>More than 20 years after alcohol was legalized</strong>, and Ness had fallen into obscurity, <em>The Untouchables</em> (Messner, 1957) turned his fight against Capone into legend. Ghostwritten by United Press International (UPI) sportswriter Oscar Fraley, the story was heavily fictionalized, with pages of invented dialogue and a style borrowed from hard-boiled detective fiction.</p> <p>The book sold more than a million copies and made Ness—who died seven months before publication—more famous than he had been during the Prohibition years. With the book’s success, Ness joined the “American pantheon of crime-fighting icons,” as one journalist put it —an ironic development, given how much Americans loathed Prohibition.</p> <p>The legend of the Untouchables was embroidered further when the book was adapted into a two-episode TV movie, <em>The Scarface Mob</em>, followed by a series, <em>The Untouchables</em> (1959–63). Since Ness had defeated Capone in the movie, the series needed other bad guys for him to battle each week. He took on assorted gangsters and, in one episode, a German diplomat trying to spread Nazi beliefs (and heroin) to the United States.</p> <p>Later came the Brian De Palma film (1987), written by David Mamet, starring Kevin Costner as Ness, Robert De Niro as Capone, and Sean Connery as Ness’s fictional mentor, Jimmy Malone. (Malone gets most of the tough-guy lines: “You want to get Capone? Here’s how you get him. He pulls a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. That’s the Chicago way.”) The blockbuster movie was followed by a second, shorter-lived TV series (1993–94).</p> <p>Like any legendary hero, the character of Ness has been adapted in other contexts. He’s name checked in the 1995 Tupac song “California Love”: “A state that’s untouchable like Eliot Ness.” In a 2012 episode of the paranormal TV series <em>Supernatural</em>, he hunts monsters, not gangsters . And Cleveland’s Great Lakes Brewing Company (cofounded by <strong>Pat Conway</strong>, AM’78) makes an Eliot Ness lager. “Admittedly, it’s a bit of a paradox to name our amber lager for history’s most famous agent of prohibition,” the company’s website states. “But it’s a smooth, malty (and dare we say, arresting?) paradox.”</p> <p>Most recently, the protagonists of the time-travel TV series <em>Timeless</em> encountered Ness—portrayed by guest star <strong>Misha Collins</strong>, AB’97—in 1931 Chicago. As the three visitors from 2017 watch, horrifed, the agent dies in a hail of machine-gun fire.</p> <p>“No. Eliot Ness—he can’t be dead, he’s not supposed to die for another 26 years,” says time traveler Lucy Preston (a history professor, though her history can be shaky). “Capone is out there on the loose and the only guy that can stop him is gone.”</p> <p>Ness did not die during the Prohibition years, but that’s where his legend usually ends. It does not follow him to Cleveland, where he oversaw the police and fire departments for six years—though Fraley tried to sensationalize that period too, in a sequel called <em>4 Against the Mob</em> (Popular Library, 1961). In Cleveland, as in Chicago, Ness fought police corruption and organized crime. By the time he left to take a federal job during World War II, “peace and law at long last had come to the city of Cleveland,” in Fraley’s retelling. “The filth had been sponged away.”</p> <p>Others tried to strip away the embellishment. “Ness was no Agent 007,” wrote Philip W. Porter in the Cleveland<em> Plain Dealer</em> in 1966, a few years after the first <em>Untouchables</em> TV series was cancelled. “He was a careful unsensational investigator, who knew where to look for evidence. He hardly ever raised his voice. He made no scenes. He was boyish, amused, relaxed, good company in all circumstances.”</p> <p>In film and on television, when Ness isn’t having shootouts with the bad guys, he’s usually portrayed as a dedicated, even sentimental, family man. (The number, age, and gender of his fictional children varies; in reality he had one adopted son, Robert.) The legend also omits the fact that he was married three times. His second wife left him for a woman.</p> <p>But the screenplay or TV pilot about these aspects of Ness’s dramatic life has yet to be written.</p> <hr /><h3><strong>Al Capone: </strong>All this talk of bootlegging. What is bootlegging? On the boat, it’s bootlegging. On Lake Shore Drive, it’s hospitality.</h3> <p class="text-align-right"><em>—The Untouchables</em> (1987)</p> <hr /><p><strong>Eliot Ness was born in Chicago</strong> in 1902, the son of Norwegian immigrants; his father ran a wholesale bakery business. He grew up in the far South Side neighborhood of Kensington, not far from the company town of Pullman, where alcohol was only available at one hotel. It was easy to get a drink in Kensington, nicknamed Bumtown for its abundant saloons.</p> <p>The National Prohibition Act—commonly known as the Volstead Act, after the Minnesota congressman who championed it—went into effect in 1920 but did not stop Americans from drinking. It just created a profitable new revenue stream for the nation’s gangsters. The most notorious, Al Capone, reportedly earned $60 million annually from illegal liquor sales (more than $847 million in 2017 dollars). “I’m just a businessman,” Capone often said, “giving the public what they want.”</p> <p>As Capone was beginning to build his name in Chicago, Ness graduated from Christian Fenger High School—he liked to read Sherlock Holmes during his lunch hour—and enrolled at the University of Chicago, where he studied commerce, law, and political science. A typical undergrad of the time, he joined a fraternity and attended football games. According to some sources, Ness graduated in the top third of his class. Douglas Perry, author of the acclaimed biography <em>Eliot Ness: Rise and Fall of an American Hero</em> (Viking, 2014), writes that his grades “were awful.” (Ness’s academic record is sealed.)</p> <p>After graduation Ness worked briefly for the Retail Credit Company. His brother-in-law, Alexander Jamie, a senior manager in the Chicago office of the Prohibition Bureau, helped him get a job there. But Ness was disappointed by what he found: corrupt agents on the mob’s payroll. According to the bureau’s own records, between 1920 and 1931, 9 percent of its personnel were fired for corruption. Doubtless many other crooked agents were never caught.</p> <p>By 1930, according to his personnel file, Ness had earned a reputation for “coolness, aggressiveness and fearlessness in raids.” On Jamie’s recommendation, Ness was chosen to lead a special “Capone squad.”</p> <p>In <em>Untouchables</em> book version of this tale, the squad is Ness’s idea. “Suppose the Prohibition Bureau picked a small, select squad,” he suggests to Jamie. “Let’s say ten or a dozen men. … No rotten apples. Get it?” Ness is put in charge of his proposed squad and told to handpick his agents. His criteria, as the book has it: “single, no older than thirty … the courage and ability to use fist or gun. … I needed a good telephone man, one who could tap a wire with speed and precision. I needed men who were excellent drivers, for much of our success would depend on how expertly they could trail the mob’s cars and trucks.”</p> <p>In fact most of his agents were older, many married with families. And while <em>The Untouchables</em> claims Ness chose 10 men for his elite squad, there was never a set lineup; agents came and went, sometimes staying only a week or two.</p> <p>One part of the legend is true: Ness and his agents really did put pressure on Capone in Hollywood-worthy ways. They crashed through the doors of breweries in a truck outfitted with a battering ram. They carried sawed-off shotguns and sat at the corner table in restaurants, nobody’s back to the door. They once created a distraction so their “telephone man,” dressed like a repairman, could shinny up a telephone pole outside a mafia bar and run a wiretap—a relatively new tool for law enforcement that, with surveillance and anonymous tips, helped Ness’s squad discover how Capone’s bootlegging empire worked.</p> <p>Capone tried hard to conceal his operation, but he also paid politicians, police officers, and even federal agents not to look for it. As the story goes, one of Capone’s men offered Ness $2,000 a week. An outraged Ness ordered the man out of his office and immediately called the press. The next day, a <em>Chicago Tribune</em> article gave the squad the nickname that stuck: “The Untouchables.”</p> <p>Calling the press was a typical strategy for Ness, who often tipped off the newspapers when he was going to conduct a raid. He believed media coverage helped the cause of law enforcement, winning over the public and making the police seem invincible.</p> <p>Despite the heroic view the newspapers took of Ness, media coverage occasionally struck a wistful tone about the particular crimes he was fighting. “Prohibition agents, aided by police, today destroyed enough bourbon whiskey, which, if mixed into mint juleps, poured into tall, thin frosted glasses and garnished with a sprig of mint—which would ... Anyway, here’s looking at you,” read a 1931 article in the <em>Chicago Evening American</em>. “It’s in the sewer, sent there by Assistant Prohibition Agent Elliott [<em>sic</em>] Ness and his squad of ‘untouchables.’”</p> <p>Ness knew full well that the law he was enforcing was unpopular. “The trouble with the Prohibition law was that such a large section of the public did not believe in it,” he wrote in his own memoir of those years, never published. “They either were against it in its entirety or figured it was for the other fellow.”</p> <p>According to biographer Perry, Ness enjoyed a drink himself, and not all the confiscated liquor found its way to the sewer. After one raid, Ness showed up at the house of an old fraternity buddy. Inside the car, his friend recalled, was “the most beautiful collection of booze in the city of Chicago.”</p> <hr /><h3><strong>Ness:</strong> Try a murderer for not paying his taxes?</h3> <h3><strong>Accountant Oscar Wallace:</strong> Well, it’s better than nothing.</h3> <p class="text-align-right"><em>—The Untouchables (1987)</em></p> <hr /><p><strong>By 1931 Ness and his hardworking squad</strong> had put together a 5,000-charge indictment against Capone; most of the charges were for transporting beer illegally. But Prohibition was so despised, the US district attorney feared a jury would be sympathetic to a bootlegger. It would be much easier to convict a tax cheat, he reasoned, especially during the Depression years. Ness’s charges were never brought.</p> <p>So Capone was convicted of tax evasion—$1,038,654.84 earned tax-free between 1924 and 1929—and sentenced to 11 years in prison. Nonetheless it was Ness, not the bean counters of the IRS, whose work was sensationalized in national press coverage of Capone’s downfall.</p> <p>“One 28-year-old federal agent getting $2800 a year played a prominent part in gathering evidence on Capone,” the <em>Boston Traveler </em>reported (that’s about $42,000 today). “He was threatened, attacked, offered bribes and persistently stalked, yet on he worked, content with his $2800 a year and his conscience. His name is no secret. Gangsters know it. It is Eliot Ness, graduate of the University of Chicago.”</p> <p>The press coverage often mentioned Ness’s UChicago degree, a notable accomplishment at a time when fewer than 5 percent of Americans had a college education. But in <em>The Untouchables</em> Fraley mentions it only in passing, in the introduction, and the University dropped out of the Ness legend.</p> <p>His degree also served to contrast Ness with Capone, who had a sixth-grade education. “The big shot turns out to be just a greaseball,” the <em>Boston Traveler</em> gloated after Capone was arrested. “He got away with it for a while, but his doom was sealed the minute he started it. What a dumb kluck!”</p> <hr /><h3><strong>Reporter:</strong> They say they’re going to repeal Prohibition. What will you do then?</h3> <h3><strong>Ness:</strong> I think I’ll have a drink.</h3> <p class="text-align-right"><em>—The Untouchables</em> (1987)</p> <hr /><p><strong>The flattering press coverage of Ness </strong>continued when he accepted the job of safety director in Cleveland in 1935. Ness was responsible for the police, fire, and building departments in the nation’s sixth largest city; at 33 he was the youngest person to ever hold the post. A <em>Chicago Daily News</em> story about his appointment described him: “Ness, who then and now is tall, slender and handsome.”</p> <p>Like Chicago, Cleveland had a large mob presence and a corrupt police force. Over a year and a half, Ness built thorough cases against cops who took bribes and brought them to trial. Again, the newspapers swooned, calling him Cleveland’s “Boy Wonder.”</p> <p>Less celebrated, then or now, was Ness’s radical approach to police work, which was decades ahead of its time. In 1929 criminologist August Vollmer had joined UChicago to direct the center for the scientific study of police problems. Ness, who had graduated four years before, returned to the University to take Vollmer’s police administration course.</p> <p>Known as the “father of modern law enforcement,” Vollmer devised scientific policing strategies that we take for granted today. As the police chief of Berkeley, California, at the turn of the century, he had rooted out the patronage system, sought recruits with college degrees, and instituted formal police training. He made officers more mobile (first on bikes, then in cars) and equipped the cars with two-way radios. His department was one of the first to use blood, fiber, and soil analysis in investigations.</p> <figure role="group"><img alt="Eliot Ness and Cleveland police captain Arthur Roth in 1940" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="3c81c2e5-f981-41d8-9699-de5c8d7080a4" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/18_Winter_Golus_Out_of_the_Shadows_SpotB_0.jpg" /><figcaption>In Cleveland Ness brought reforms that anticipated elements of modern policing. He is shown with police captain Arthur Roth in 1940. (PBDELNE CS001/CSU Archives/Courtesy Everett Collection)</figcaption></figure><p>In Cleveland Ness copied as many of Vollmer’s innovations as he could. At the police academy Ness established, new recruits learned how to use cutting-edge forensic science—in ballistics, fingerprint, and photographic laboratories—as well as criminal psychology.</p> <p>One of Ness’s most foresighted accomplishments as safety director was his work with young gang members. “Until very recently, the police have done nothing officially to deal with the juvenile problems which are the very source of adult crime,” Ness wrote in an article for the <em>Phi Delta Kappan</em>, echoing Vollmer.</p> <p>As critics scoffed , Ness established a juvenile bureau. Its investigators studied the area of Cleveland with the highest delinquency rate, looking not only at risk factors—saloons, poolrooms, hangouts, dance halls, “broken homes”—but also assets like churches, clubs, and playgrounds.</p> <p>In those areas where gangs were active, the police approached the leaders and negotiated for their cooperation, promising to build recreation facilities and get jobs for older gang members, “the very things the fellows wanted.” More than 500 boys were placed in jobs over three years. Others were given mechanical training: “Youths who lately had used blackjacks and guns now were taught how to use slide-rules, micrometers, and lathes.”</p> <p>Once the older gang members signed on, “their endorsement and active support brought the younger boys into line,” Ness wrote. He closed five underused police stations and turned them into self-governing boys’ clubs, offering sports teams, bands, and other activities. An outdoor swimming pool was built, “reinforced with iron girders taken from old police cell blocks.”</p> <p>By 1939 Cleveland had reduced its juvenile delinquency rate more than 60 percent.</p> <hr /><h3><strong>Chicago alderman</strong> (after Ness refuses a bribe): You’re making a mistake.</h3> <h3><strong>Ness:</strong> Yeah, well I’ve made them before and I’m beginning to enjoy them.</h3> <p class="text-align-right"><em>—The Untouchables</em> (1987)</p> <hr /><p><strong>Ness’s years as safety director were not without failures.</strong> From 1935 to 1938, the notorious “Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run” killed at least 12 people in Cleveland. The victims were found near a shantytown—so Ness took the men who lived there into custody, searched their shacks, and had the shantytown burned to the ground. The press was outraged at his cruel treatment of these “jobless and penniless men.” The murderer was never caught.</p> <p>There were other controversies that undermined Ness’s squeaky-clean image. Disillusioned by his flirting and long work hours, his wife Edna divorced him, a shocking thing in largely Catholic, working-class Cleveland. In 1939 he married Evaline McAndrew (later a well-known children’s book writer and illustrator). Each checked “single” on the marriage certificate, though they were both divorced. In 1942 Ness was in a car accident after he had been drinking; when a reporter discovered his name had been left off the accident report, the story exploded into scandal.</p> <p>Soon afterward Ness left Cleveland. During World War II he served as the director of the Social Protection Division in the Office of Defense Health and Welfare Services in Washington, DC. The euphemistically named division was charged with reducing sexually transmitted diseases in the military. The problem was staggering: more than 100,000 of the two million men examined for selective service were rejected because of venereal disease.</p> <p>When the war ended, Ness returned to Cleveland, now married to his third wife, Elisabeth Andersen Seaver, a sculptor. In 1947 they adopted a baby boy, Robert. (In <em>The Untouchables</em> and <em>4 Against the Mob</em>, Fraley calls Ness’s wife Betty, expunging the earlier wives from the record.) The same year, Capone died of syphilis of the brain; he had been released early in 1939 for good behavior and the state of his health.</p> <p>In Cleveland Ness served as chairman of the board of safe company Diebold and ran for mayor as a Republican against a popular Democratic incumbent. He had catchy slogans—“Vote Yes for Eliot Ness,” “Ness Is Necessary”—but was soundly defeated. “The campaign was a fiasco,” a columnist for the <em>Plain Dealer</em> recalled years later. “He was 10 years too late to cash in on his splendid reputation.”</p> <p>After that Ness’s fame faded. He was unemployed for four years before becoming president of Guaranty Paper Corporation and Fidelity Check Corporation, where he did not meet with much success. By 1955 he was deeply in debt.</p> <p>That year Ness met UPI reporter Oscar Fraley, an old school friend of a colleague he had traveled with to New York on a business trip. The three men stayed up late drinking and listening to Ness share stories about the Capone days. When Fraley pitched the idea of a book about his Chicago adventures, Ness, who needed the money, agreed.</p> <p>He sent Fraley his scrapbook of newspaper clippings, which he had faithfully preserved over the decades. He also sent his own version of his years on the Capone squad—just over 20 typewritten pages. “In about 1928, I was employed by the Retail Credit Company,” Ness’s less-than-arresting tale begins, “which is, as you know, a national investigation company, devoted entirely to investigations of persons applying for insurance.”</p> <p>Fraley transformed these rough materials into <em>The Untouchables</em>. “Don’t get scared if we stray from the facts once in a while,” he wrote to Ness.</p> <p>As you read the first-person story, you can practically hear it as a film noir voice-over, perhaps growled by Humphrey Bogart: “There would always be plenty of work out there in the Chicago streets for men daring enough to face it and nerves strong enough to stand it.”</p> <p>A legend was born.</p> <hr /><h3><strong>Al Capone:</strong> You’re nothing but a lot of talk and a badge.</h3> <p class="text-align-right"><em>—The Untouchables</em> (1987)</p> <hr /><p><strong>In 2014 the unsung agents of the IRS</strong> finally had a chance to tell their version of the Eliot Ness story.</p> <p>Three US senators—Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Mark Kirk (R-Illinois), and Dick Durbin (D-Illinois)—wanted to name the Washington, DC, headquarters of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) after Ness. “Chicago gangster Al Capone believed that every man had his price,” Durbin stated in a press release. “But for Eliot Ness and his legendary law enforcement team ‘The Untouchables,’ no amount of money could buy their loyalty or sway their dedication.”</p> <p>Alderman Edward M. Burke, an amateur historian, disagreed. He invited three retired IRS agents to testify in front of Chicago City Council’s public safety panel. The goal was to bolster his case for a symbolic resolution against honoring Ness. “Chicago should be on record telling what really happened,” said Burke, who once sponsored a resolution absolving Mrs. O’Leary’s cow of burning Chicago to the ground in 1871.</p> <p>Ness “was afraid of guns and he barely left the office,” retired IRS agent Bob Fuesel told the panel. (Fuesel was too young to have met Ness personally; he heard that rumor, which contradicts innumerable accounts of Ness’s bravery, from old-timers.) The newspapers of the time had given Ness too much credit, the agents said, while downplaying the less glamorous role that the IRS played in bringing Capone to justice.</p> <p>The same month that Chicago’s City Council debated Ness’s importance, Perry’s thoroughly researched biography, <em>Eliot Ness: The Rise and Fall of an American Hero</em>, was published. “Ever since the 1960s’ <em>Untouchables</em> TV series became a smash hit, debunkers have worked hard—too hard—to downplay Ness’ historical role in corralling Capone,” Perry wrote in an essay for the website <em>Bookish</em>. But Burke and the other aldermen apparently had not read the book. “When you look at the criticism,” Perry told the <em>Washington Post</em>, “it’s from people who don’t know much about him.”</p> <p>A spokeswoman for the ATF, interviewed by the <em>New York Times</em>, would not comment on the proposed name change. But she did point out that Ness pioneered law enforcement techniques still used today—including the public relations tactics he was famous for.</p> <p>In the end, nothing came of the proposal to honor Ness. Today the bureau’s website proudly decribes him as a “legacy ATF agent ... one of the most famous federal agents in the history of law enforcement.” Its profile of Ness goes on to claim that he and his Untouchables were “the enforcers who had put away Al Capone.” The legend lives on.</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-reftopic field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/topics/law-policy-society" hreflang="en">Law, Policy &amp; Society</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/criminal-justice" hreflang="en">Criminal justice</a></div> </div> Fri, 09 Feb 2018 21:55:04 +0000 admin 6834 at Easing the transition out of Cook County jail <div class="field field--name-field-letter-box-story-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <img loading="lazy" src="/sites/default/files/1711_Allen_Release.jpg" width="2000" height="1160" alt="Support Release Center" title="Support Release Center" class="img-responsive" /> </div> <span><span>Anonymous</span></span> <span>Wed, 10/25/2017 - 11:44</span> <div class="field field--name-field-caption field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Following the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Supportive Release Center, Harold Pollack planted flowers in the center’s garden. (UChicago News Office)</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refauthors field--type-entity-reference field--label-visually_hidden"> <div class="field--label sr-only">Author</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field--item"> <div> <a href="/author/susie-allen-ab09"> <div class="field field--name-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field--item">Susie Allen, AB’09</div> </a> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refsource field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/publication-sources/university-chicago-magazine" hreflang="en">The University of Chicago Magazine</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issue field--type-text field--label-hidden field--item">Fall/17</div> <div class="field field--name-field-subhead field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>A new program provides a softer landing for former inmates.</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Unlike state and federal prisons, where inmate releases might be planned months or years in advance, leaving Cook County jail is an unceremonious affair. </p> <p>Inmates are turned out of the sprawling eight-block complex at all hours and with little warning. It’s not uncommon for the recently released to walk several miles home from 26th and California. </p> <p>“People just wander out into the night,” says <a href=""><b>Harold Pollack</b></a>, the Helen Ross Professor at the School of Social Service Administration, who studies poverty and public health. </p> <p>Some, especially those who are homeless and suffer from mental illness, are rearrested soon after release; others overdose, participate in violence, or become the victims of violence within the first few days and weeks of leaving jail. </p> <p>This state of affairs has long troubled <a href="">Cook County sheriff Tom Dart</a>. In fact, nearly every aspect of the modern criminal justice system troubles Dart (“my seven-year-old would come up with better ideas,” he says), but the problem of release has been particularly frustrating.</p> <p>“People come in on things that aren’t even crimes, they sit there for outrageously extended periods of time”—one woman spent more than 200 days in the jail awaiting trial for shoplifting—“and the way it was operating was, we just dump them all into communities and then act puzzled why (a) they’re coming back and (b) why they are causing more harm in that community,” he says.</p> <p>In his 11 years as sheriff, Dart has come to view jails as “dumping grounds for all the problems of our society that people don’t want to deal with”: substance abuse, poverty, mental illness. Jails, he often points out, have become the largest mental health providers in the state. He estimates that at least a third of the inmates in Cook County jail suffer from mental illness.</p> <p>Rather than fighting this reality, Dart decided to embrace it. “If that’s what, as a society, we’ve decided to do” about mental illness, he thought, “Well, [Cook County jail] is going to be the best mental health provider.” He’s instituted reforms including a mental health transition center that offers therapy and job training. <a href="">He appointed a clinical psychologist</a>, Nneka Jones Tapia, as the jail’s warden. As a result of these measures, more inmates began getting some of the treatment they needed.</p> <p>But too often the progress ended the minute inmates left the front gate. Dart wanted a better pathway out of jail, so in 2015 the sheriff’s office applied for grant funding from the <a href="">University of Chicago Urban Labs</a>. Two other organizations, <a href="">Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities</a> and <a href="">Heartland Health Outreach</a>, submitted similar proposals. </p> <p>The three groups ultimately teamed up and suggested a simple but powerful intervention, the Supportive Release Center (SRC), which offers former inmates identified as high risk a safe place to sleep, have a meal, wash clothes, and make phone calls on the night of their release. It also connects people to the services they need to stay out of jail. An on-site nurse and caseworker can order prescription refills, make follow-up appointments at community clinics, and provide referrals to service providers for housing assistance and mental health counseling. On its face, it’s nothing fancy—the facility is housed in a repurposed mobile home just blocks from the jail—but it offers a softer landing to those who need it most.  </p> <p>The SRC ultimately received $1 million in start-up funding from Urban Labs and the Pritzker Foundation. That grant supports a study led by professor of medicine <a href=""><b>David Meltzer</b></a>, LAB’82, AM’87, PhD’92, MD’93, and Pollack. The two are codirectors of the <a href="">UChicago Health Lab</a>, which helps governments and community organizations identify programs and policies that improve health outcomes. Together they’re running a randomized study of the center, tracking factors such as rearrest, homelessness, and hospitalizations among people who were invited to use the center’s services and a control group of those who were not. </p> <p>Release is “such a critical moment in people’s lives,” says Pollack. “People experience the maximum personal vulnerability at the exact moment that they are passing between administrative systems, and they—if we’re not careful—will slip through our fingers.” </p> <p>Not everyone needs every service the SRC provides—some only need to make a quick phone call, or to rest for a few hours. But for others, a night off the streets, something to eat, and access to medication may prevent a tragic outcome or another trip to jail. “We want to just make sure that they make a healthy and safe transition to whatever comes next,” Pollack says. And if it works, he hopes other cities will adopt a similar model.</p> <p>In its first four months, 150 people used the SRC’s services. Three-quarters of them stayed overnight—a telling statistic, in Dart’s mind. “That sort of screams out to you, what would have happened but for this?” he says.</p> <p>Pollack has a social scientist’s circumspection about declaring the program a success before his study is complete, but Dart is not so reserved. “It’s so logical,” he says. “I’m beyond optimistic. I’m convinced this will succeed, and I’m convinced as we go along our biggest issue will be expansion—it won’t be, do we continue this or not? It will be, how do we ramp this  up even further?”</p> <p><em>This story was originally published in the Fall/17 print edition as “Rethinking Release.”</em></p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-reftopic field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/topics/law-policy-society" hreflang="en">Law, Policy &amp; Society</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/criminal-justice" hreflang="en">Criminal justice</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refuchicago field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/school-social-service-administration" hreflang="en">School of Social Service Administration</a></div> </div> Wed, 25 Oct 2017 16:44:52 +0000 Anonymous 6673 at The prison reformer’s dilemma <div class="field field--name-field-letter-box-story-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <img loading="lazy" src="/sites/default/files/1705_Klein_Prison-reformers-dilemma.jpg" width="1600" height="743" alt="" class="img-responsive" /> </div> <span><span>jmiller</span></span> <span>Tue, 05/09/2017 - 10:01</span> <div class="field field--name-field-caption field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>In his Twitter bio, Pfaff jokes that “I’m not contrarian—the data is.” (Photography by Chris Taggart, courtesy Fordham Law School)</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refauthors field--type-entity-reference field--label-visually_hidden"> <div class="field--label sr-only">Author</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field--item"> <div> <a href="/author/asher-klein-ab11"> <div class="field field--name-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field--item">Asher Klein, AB’11</div> </a> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refsource field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/publication-sources/university-chicago-magazine" hreflang="en">The University of Chicago Magazine</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issue field--type-text field--label-hidden field--item">Spring/17</div> <div class="field field--name-field-subhead field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>A UChicago alumnus is challenging the conventional wisdom on mass incarceration.</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>At the end of 2015, almost 2.2 million people were incarcerated in American prisons and jails, surpassing the population of New Mexico.</p> <p>The incarceration rate catapulted in the 1970s and continued to swell over the next 40 years, giving rise to today’s prison reform movement. “Mass incarceration makes our country worse off, and we need to do something about it,” then-president Barack Obama <a href="" target="_blank">said</a> in 2015.</p> <p>Many of Obama’s efforts focused on nonviolent drug offenders, mandatory minimum sentences, and private prisons. He’s far from alone in thinking those are the best routes for prison reform, says <a href="" target="_blank">John Pfaff</a>, AB’97, AM’02, JD’03, PhD’05.</p> <p>But the conventional wisdom misses the real reasons why the United States is the world’s biggest jailer, argues Pfaff, a Fordham University law professor. His paradigm-challenging new book, <em><a href="" target="_blank">Locked In: The True Causes of Mass Incarceration—and How to Achieve Real Reform</a></em> (Basic Books, 2017), aims to dismantle the drug‑war‑focused “standard story,” as Pfaff calls it, of why our prison population is so high. “Why I push so hard against this common narrative is because actually, in the end, it leads us to embrace solutions that won’t work.”</p> <p>Pfaff is an economist and lawyer who describes himself as a “prisons and criminal justice quant.” He’s spent years diving into data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Justice Statistics, and the National Center on State Courts, seeking to understand the problem and politics of mass incarceration.</p> <p>The book is jammed with statistics, but a few simple ones help illustrate why Pfaff thinks the standard story falls short.</p> <p>For instance, drug crimes account for about 16 percent of state prisoners, while violent crimes account for more than half. Violent crimes, Pfaff argues, are the primary driver of the swollen prison rate and a better place to focus reform efforts.</p> <p>“We’ve convinced people that we can do so much just by targeting drugs that they don’t feel the need to start wrestling with, how do we handle violence?”</p> <p>Pfaff writes that three things have driven the American prison boom. First, sentencing for violent crimes has grown harsher; second, prosecutors’ power is rarely checked; and third, prison guard unions and politicians can have even stronger incentives to maximize the size of prisons than the for-profit private prisons loathed by reformers.</p> <p>Pfaff says his findings on prosecutors are the most important in the book, as they get far less scrutiny than police, judges, and prison officials. In fact, he could find no data analyzing prosecutors’ choices until he stumbled upon an obscure data set from the National Center for State Courts.</p> <p>It was a eureka moment. He saw that between 1994 and 2008, crime reports and the number of arrests fell, yet prosecutors filed more felony cases in state courts.</p> <p>The probability that a felony charge led to prison time stayed the same (about one in four) under Pfaff’s analysis. Simply by filing more felony charges, prosecutors brought about a 40 percent increase in prison admissions.</p> <p>Pfaff concludes that prosecutors need charging guidelines similar to judges’ sentencing guidelines—scoring systems that weigh elements in a case so that similar offenders are treated equally. Currently they have “unfettered discretion” over how to handle a case in which, for example, a dozen different statutes might apply.</p> <p>And he’d like to see more prosecutors representing only cities, rather than counties, so that richer whiter suburbs have less sway over criminal justice in poorer urban areas with larger minority populations.</p> <p>As for why anyone would want to cut time served for a violent crime, that’s the notion Pfaff says people have most wanted to debate as he’s promoted the book. His thinking on the question is still evolving.</p> <p>He acknowledges lighter sentencing is a political third-rail in a country like the United States. Reducing sentences for violent crime is “the one part where left, right, or center, it’s a very hard road … to get people to come along with me.”</p> <p>That’s the case for Vikrant Reddy, a senior research fellow on criminal justice reform at the Charles Koch Institute. Reddy calls the book “one of the most important contributions an academic has made in the criminal justice space in many years,” but he’s cautious about fundamentally rethinking punishments for violent crimes. “For very serious violent offenders, the sentences are going to be long and probably need to be long,” Reddy says.</p> <p>Pfaff thinks long sentences haven’t worked as a deterrent and aren’t cost efficient. He favors shifting money from prisons toward interventions proven to prevent violence in the first place. For instance, studies show that CeaseFire, <a href="" target="_blank">a Chicago program</a> working to break cycles of violence and retaliation, reduced shooting rates. (The program’s funding was cut in 2015—right before gun violence skyrocketed.)</p> <p>Elsewhere, Pfaff sees an all-too-common urge in prison reform measures to balance shorter sentences for nonviolent offenses with harsher punishment for violent ones, as South Carolina did in a lauded 2010 reform bill.</p> <p>None of this is to say that Pfaff believes ending the drug war is a bad idea. He’s for it, even if he thinks it’s a relatively small contributor to the incarceration rate.</p> <p>He takes heart, too, in the recent bipartisan trend in prison reform that’s coalesced around the standard story. Some in the conservative industrialist Koch brothers’ orbit have teamed with liberal groups like the American Civil Liberties Union to combat mandatory minimum sentences, earning a shout-out from Obama in that 2015 speech.</p> <p>Pfaff thinks the election of tough-on-crime Donald Trump won’t make much difference to the prison reform movement. If he’s right about what’s putting people in prison, trying to change legislation and executive action at a national level won’t be as effective as reaching out to the thousands of prosecutors across the country and convincing them to change.</p> <p>Pfaff has plenty of ideas he’s willing to share with reformers of all political stripes. He hopes his book will help them unite around new, more effective strategies to reduce the prison population—though he acknowledges it won’t be simple. “I understand that you don’t turn our system around on a dime. You have to work your way into this,” he says. “Ironically, drugs is the gateway policy issue to reform.”</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-reftopic field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/topics/law-policy-society" hreflang="en">Law, Policy &amp; Society</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/mass-incarceration" hreflang="en">Mass incarceration</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/criminal-justice" hreflang="en">Criminal justice</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/prison" hreflang="en">Prison</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/crime" hreflang="en">Crime</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/illegal-drugs" hreflang="en">Illegal Drugs</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-relatedlinks field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p><strong>Follow</strong> Plaff (<a href="" target="_blank">@JohnFPfaff</a>) on Twitter.</p> </div> Tue, 09 May 2017 15:01:25 +0000 jmiller 6440 at Jail broken <div class="field field--name-field-letter-box-story-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <img loading="lazy" src="/sites/default/files/1605_Allen_Jail-broken.jpg" width="1600" height="743" alt="" class="img-responsive" /> </div> <span><span>Anonymous</span></span> <span>Fri, 04/29/2016 - 11:57</span> <div class="field field--name-field-caption field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>The number of mentally ill inmates in American jails and prisons has swelled since the 1960s. (©</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refauthors field--type-entity-reference field--label-visually_hidden"> <div class="field--label sr-only">Author</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field--item"> <div> <a href="/author/susie-allen-ab09"> <div class="field field--name-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field--item">Susie Allen, AB’09</div> </a> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refsource field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/publication-sources/university-chicago-magazine" hreflang="en">The University of Chicago Magazine</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issue field--type-text field--label-hidden field--item">Spring/16</div> <div class="field field--name-field-subhead field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>A landmark lawsuit aims to reform treatment of mentally ill inmates in Illinois prisons. </p> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>The stories couldn’t possibly be true.</p> <p>That’s what Laura Miller, JD’82, thought when she first got involved in a lawsuit against the Illinois Department of Corrections on behalf of mentally ill inmates. The class-action abuse case, <em>Rasho v. Baldwin</em>, which began in 2007 and unfolded over the next eight years, would ultimately involve 11,000 inmates represented by attorneys from four legal organizations. In December both sides agreed to a settlement calling for $40 million to improve prison facilities and $40 million annually for new personnel.</p> <p>In the lawsuit’s early years, a team of expert investigators visited several Illinois prison facilities to examine the treatment of mentally ill inmates. Some of the plaintiffs’ claims of abuse seemed almost unbelievable—“but sure enough [they were] true,” says Miller, managing attorney for civil rights at <a href="" target="_blank">Equip for Equality</a>, an organization that advocates for the disabled in Illinois.</p> <p>In their complaint, the plaintiffs alleged they were subjected to cruel and unusual punishment: Inmates who attempted to hang themselves using prison-issued sheets say they were fined for the cost of the sheet. Suicidal inmates would be stripped naked and put in “crisis cells” with no mattress or blankets. Some were deprived of psychotropic medications, causing serious health risks. Others were forced into extended periods in solitary confinement as punishment for their symptoms. (The IDOC has not admitted liability regarding the allegations.)</p> <p>“It’s a combination of neglect, insensitivity, and a level of unconcern that is shocking,” says <a href="" target="_blank">Harold Hirshman</a>, LAB’62, JD’69, a partner at Dentons who worked on the case pro bono.</p> <p>Incarceration of the mentally ill has grown dramatically in recent decades. The Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates that roughly half of incarcerated Americans have some kind of mental health problem. About 14 percent of male and 31 percent of female inmates in American jails have a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression, according to a 2009 study in <em>Psychiatric Services</em>.</p> <p>Experts like <a href="" target="_blank">Matthew Epperson</a>, assistant professor in the School of Social Service Administration, trace the origin of the problem to the 1960s, when an effort spearheaded by President John F. Kennedy led to the closure of psychiatric institutions around the country. Deinstitutionalization stemmed from a positive impulse, but was troubled in practice. “There [weren’t] the same kind of resources and planning made to develop a continuum of care in the community,” explains Epperson, who studies mental illness and incarceration. “Folks went from literally living their whole lives in institutions to now having to navigate issues around housing, basic needs, and coordinating treatment.”</p> <p>Closure of state-run hospitals wasn’t the only force leaving the mentally ill vulnerable to criminalization. Epperson, who was a social worker in a county jail before becoming an academic, says the vast majority of the mentally ill inmates he saw suffered from a nexus of problems, including substance abuse and poverty. “If you’re mentally ill and poor ... you’re much more likely to be in the criminal justice system,” he says.</p> <p>Someone with a mental illness entering prison in Illinois is likely to face a system unprepared to handle his or her condition. Correctional officers are trained to subdue uncooperative inmates, but not those with psychotic symptoms. Inmates who are prescribed psychotropic medications often don’t receive follow-up about whether the treatment is effective. As a result, “whatever their mental health condition is, it tends to worsen in jails and prisons,” Epperson says.</p> <p>No single lawsuit could transform Illinois’s correctional system overnight. With <em>Rasho</em>, attorneys for the plaintiffs say, their goal was to make the state meet its Eighth Amendment obligation. Miller is sympathetic to the societal tendency to not make prisons “attractive and fun places. They are not country clubs.” But, she says, no one is asking for luxury. “We’re asking that they get basic services to treat an illness.”</p> <p>After the multiyear negotiation process, both sides agree they’ve arrived at a settlement that will, once finalized by a judge this spring, improve delivery of those basic services. Under the agreement, the state will create residential treatment units staffed by 700 new employees that will provide appropriate care to mentally ill inmates. The settlement also calls for the Illinois Department of Corrections to review the mental health of all prisoners in solitary confinement, as well as 20 hours a week of out-of-cell time for mentally ill inmates sentenced to solitary confinement for more than 60 days.</p> <p>The IDOC’s acting director John Baldwin said in a statement the changes would “improve correctional outcomes for those with mental illness and increase safety for our dedicated staff, all offenders, and the citizens we serve.”</p> <p>Reforms are gradually being rolled out and construction on the residential treatment units is already under way. Illinois governor Bruce Rauner’s administration has set aside funding for the <em>Rasho</em> settlement, but Hirshman acknowledges all the work yet to be done. “It’s like getting to the base camp of Everest. You’re not at the top yet.”</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-reftopic field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/topics/law-policy-society" hreflang="en">Law, Policy &amp; Society</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/criminal-justice" hreflang="en">Criminal justice</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/mental-disorders" hreflang="en">Mental Disorders</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refuchicago field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/law-school" hreflang="en">Law School</a></div> </div> Fri, 29 Apr 2016 16:57:38 +0000 Anonymous 5605 at The teacher and the prisoner <div class="field field--name-field-letter-box-story-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <img loading="lazy" src="/sites/default/files/1312_Tsang_Notes_0.png" width="700" height="325" alt="" class="img-responsive" /> </div> <span><span>jmiller</span></span> <span>Wed, 07/15/2015 - 11:07</span> <div class="field field--name-field-caption field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>A book of Shakespeare’s plays. (Duncan Walker/iStockphoto) Below: Rex Hammond. (Portrait courtesy Hammond)</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refauthors field--type-entity-reference field--label-visually_hidden"> <div class="field--label sr-only">Author</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field--item"> <div> <a href="/author/carrie-golus-ab91-am93"> <div class="field field--name-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field--item">Carrie Golus, AB’91, AM’93</div> </a> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refsource field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/publication-sources/web-exclusives" hreflang="en">Web exclusives</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issue field--type-text field--label-hidden field--item">07.14.2015</div> <div class="field field--name-field-subhead field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>What happens when an armed robber reads Shakespeare?</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p><img align="right" src="" />Rex Hammond first took a class with Laura Bates, PhD’98, in 1999. At the time he was incarcerated at <a href="" target="_blank">Wabash Valley Correctional Facility</a> in <a href=",+IN/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x886d8d34da507bf5:0xa2c829edfa72f7df?sa=X&amp;ved=0CHcQ8gEwCmoVChMIk76HjLTdxgIVhBw-Ch0gGAJf" target="_blank">Carlisle, Indiana</a>, serving 25 years for armed robbery.</p> <p>Hammond <a href="" target="_blank">took three literature classes</a> from Bates—author of <em><a href=";from_review_page=1" target="_blank">Shakespeare Saved My Life: Ten Years In Solitary with the Bard</a></em> (Sourcebooks, 2013)—while earning an associate’s degree in general studies from <a href="" target="_blank">Indiana State University</a>. Released in 2009, Hammond completed his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and then earned a master’s in criminology and criminal justice from ISU. Next month Hammond begins a PhD program at <a href="" target="_blank">Washington State University</a>.</p> <h3>What was it like leaving prison after 25 years? Did you immediately enroll at ISU?</h3> <p>No. It’s been a long and winding road.</p> <p>I got released on August 31, 2009. I went to a homeless shelter, spent seven months there. First job was at McDonald’s, flipping hamburgers for minimum wage. Finally I was able to get my own apartment. It took me about a year and a half to get a car.</p> <p>My brother committed suicide, and I went through some suicide stuff myself. I finally went back to school in August 2012 for a bachelor’s of science degree in criminology and criminal justice.</p> <h3>Why criminal justice?</h3> <p>It’s been my whole life. My first run-in with the law was when I was nine years old. I first got locked up when I was 14, again as a juvenile when I was 16, then as an adult when I was 19, and I spent the next 25 out of 26 years in prison. All for violent crimes. I took a deputy hostage when I was 19. The rest were all armed robberies.</p> <h3>And you think the Shakespeare class helped turn your life around?</h3> <p>At the time, yes. Do I study Shakespeare now? No. It was a stepping stone for me.</p> <p>In Shakespeare you see good people make bad choices. Of course me and the rest of the inmates and convicts, I wouldn’t label all of us bad people because a lot of us had good hearts. We had just made a lot of bad choices.</p> <p>In prison you have what’s called the inmate code. It’s no different than the code of the streets. Honor and respect and revenge. If you’re disrespected, you have to ... That’s what you live by in prison.</p> <p>But Shakespeare kind of gives you the idea that there is no honor in that. There’s more honor in, I won’t say turning the other cheek, but being able to let things go. Not always having to seek revenge.</p> <h3>Did you find the language difficult?</h3> <p>I never thought I’d read Shakespeare. Before getting to college, I’d maybe read 10 books in my life. Just being able to read and comprehend and talk about it, that did a lot for my psyche.</p> <p>Once you read one of his plays, it carries over into his other plays. You’re more apt to be able to understand those.</p> <h3>What was Laura Bates like as a teacher?</h3> <p>She’s got a very demanding, very hard style. I remember asking Dr. Bates this in prison: Do you dummy this stuff down ’cause you think we’re inmates and we can’t understand it? She said no, she actually made it harder.</p> <p>She’s got a motherly presence about her. She was the one professor who would come to the area of prison where we lived. She had that kind of respect in prison.</p> <p>There’s just something about her. She grew up on the streets of Chicago. Her first boyfriend died during a drug deal gone bad. She grew up poor. Her parents were first-generation immigrants. She says in the book that the main thing that separated her and Larry [Newton, one of her best students, serving a life sentence without parole] was that she had loving parents to come home to, and Larry didn’t.</p> <p>When she teaches, it’s like an art. You have professors that are just professors that teach, and you have professors that treat it like an art.</p> <h3>Was it hard to focus on academic work in a prison environment?</h3> <p>I used art and college and writing as a mental gateway to escape. Sort of like <em><a href="" target="_blank">Old Man and the Sea</a></em>, where he’s laying in the boat and he just fixes his eye on a star, to transcend out of there. In prison I used all that as a getaway. Out here, I want to be part of the world. It’s harder for me to concentrate on my artwork. I don’t read as much as when I was on the inside.</p> <p>I saw the ocean for the first time just last weekend. <a href="" target="_blank">The Outer Banks</a> in <a href="" target="_blank">North Carolina</a>. I liked it. But I don’t usually go anywhere. I go to college and then I go home. The two places I feel most comfortable in the world are prison and college campus.</p> <h3>You find them similar?</h3> <p>Actually I do. I tell professors, students aren’t any different from inmates. In prison you had students who joined the CEP [<a href="" target="_blank">Corrections Education Program</a>] because they wanted that degree to get a time cut. A two-year cut for the associate’s degree, a four-year cut for the bachelor’s degree. I wanted to learn something, but did I want the time cut? Yes.</p> <p>Students out here are no different. They’re there just to get a degree, because Mom and Dad want them to, because they want a better-paying job. They’re not there to learn anything.</p> <h3>You gave a talk about Laura Bates’s work at the Midwestern Criminal Justice Association Conference last fall. What did you say?</h3> <p>I study emotional intelligence. That’s what my thesis is all about. A lot of inmates react from very poor emotional control.</p> <p>What I hypothesized at the <a href="" target="_blank">MCJA</a> was that Dr. Bates, working with these violent offenders that were all in the SHU [security housing unit, i.e., solitary confinement], it gave them a chance to change the way they think. They’d always reacted from their limbic system, the emotional part of the brain. They never used their critical thinking or frontal lobes, but Shakespeare made them do that.</p> <p>Our brains, all the time, are forming new neural connections. I think over the extended period of a year when we studied Shakespeare, we were able to change the way we think, then we changed our reactions. I would love to take that group and run an fMRI scan on their brains, before and two years after.</p> <p>Most prisoners are good-hearted people. They don’t want to be where they’re at. Most prisoners dream. I dreamed of getting out, getting a job, finding a woman, maybe having a kid. The house in the country. Then they get out and get mixed up in the world, and it goes haywire.</p> <p>The question I ask myself too, if I had had that experience with Dr. Bates 10 years prior, would that have changed me then? I don’t know. Nobody knows.</p> <h3>Do you ever worry that you might make another bad decision?</h3> <p>No. The first few years, yeah. But I’ve been out five-and-a-half years. So I don’t. Even though I get discouraged.</p> <h3>What’s your favorite Shakespeare play?</h3> <p><a href="" target="_blank"><em>Macbeth</em> </a>or <em><a href="" target="_blank">Othello</a></em>. In prison—I’ve never seen anything like it out here, but race is such a big issue. And race takes place in <em>Othello</em>.</p> <h3>Has your experience in prison influenced your academic work?</h3> <p>I get on professors all the time. You guys don’t know jack shit about the criminal. You do all these studies. You don’t know anything about what motivates a criminal. You’re worried about all these freaking numbers.</p> <p>I’ve been at ISU two-and-a-half years, and I’ve had one criminology professor sit down and pick my brain. I thought, wow. I did 25 years in prison. Twenty-seven years of my life incarcerated, with two years of juvenile. And you have nothing to ask me?</p> <h3>Do you have any advice for parents who want to make sure their kids stay out of the criminal justice system?</h3> <p>Did you see that <em>New York Times</em> <a href="" target="_blank">story</a> on Greg Ousley? He was locked up when he was 14 for murdering his parents. I was next to him at Wabash when he was 17. He played guitar with the Shakespeare in prison program.</p> <p>Me and my dad were always fighting. I don’t ever remember playing any kind of ball with him. He never came to any of my sports games. Mom came to very few. I never had a connection, really, with either of my parents, other than being in the same house with them.</p> <p>I’m just glad that I never had the suicide and murder thoughts like Greg did. If we’d had a gun in the house, somebody would have died. That’s how bad we fought. I still show some signs of low emotional intelligence. I’m a lot better than I used to be.</p> <p>My dad was a good provider, don’t get me wrong. But you were stoic, you didn’t give your sons a hug. That would be my bottom line with parents. Try to be tender to your child’s emotional part.</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-reftopic field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/topics/law-policy-society" hreflang="en">Law, Policy &amp; Society</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/prison" hreflang="en">Prison</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/criminal-justice" hreflang="en">Criminal justice</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/psychology" hreflang="en">Psychology</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/education" hreflang="en">Education</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/reading" hreflang="en">Reading</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/emotional-intelligence" hreflang="en">Emotional intelligence</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/literature" hreflang="en">Literature</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refuchicago field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/graduate-alumni" hreflang="en">Graduate alumni</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/humanities-division" hreflang="en">Division of the Humanities</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refformats field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/formats/interview" hreflang="en">Interview</a></div> Wed, 15 Jul 2015 16:07:48 +0000 jmiller 4853 at