Support the Path to Restoration Bill

 

Amending the Illinois Murderer and Violence Against Youth Registration Act
“Path To Restoration” Bill — SB 3489

Bill Sponsors: Rep. Will Guzzardi (D-39th) and Rep. Robyn Gabel (D-18th)

#FightFearBuildPower — SB 3489 passed out of the IL Senate by a unanimous 50-0 margin, and is now moving through the state House of Representatives!

The “Path to Restoration” Bill proposes a set of amendments to Illinois’ registry tracking individuals convicted of certain violent crimes. SB 3489 will create a fairer, more transparent system, allowing individuals to amend incorrect information and appeal their inclusion in the database. This is an opportunity to reconcile returning citizens with victims and their families and to help restore the dignity stripped from so many in this process.

Two actions you can take to continue urging state legislators to support Illinois citizens traversing the Path to Restoration:

Fill out a witness slip:

1. Click here

2. Fill out the form with your information.

3. Position: choose “proponent”

4. Testimony: choose “record of appearance only”

5. To submit the created slip, click the button “create slip”

If you are interested in advocating for criminal justice reform in Springfield or participating in community conversations with other leaders, legislators, residents and others directly impacted by violent crimes, contact Senior Organizer Shamar Hemphill, shamar@imancentral.org

IMAN Awarded 2018 Neighborhood Opportunity Fund Grant

We are honored and excited to receive a 2018 Neighborhood Opportunities Fund grant. IMAN has been dedicated to organizing corner stores for nearly a decade, helping to build a culture of health and increase food access on Chicago’s South and West Sides. Our Corner Store Campaign currently engages a network of 42 stores–with 10 of those stores located in Englewood–and this award helps to augment our work in that community.

Since its inception, our Corner Store Campaign has been comprised of leaders—themselves confronted with persistent issues of inequity and undesirable health outcomes—who call Englewood, Chicago Lawn and other communities home. The 63rd & Racine Healthy Marketplace project prioritizes their voices, and those of our partners in Englewood.

IMAN is inspired by and deeply rooted in local movements that have historically pushed for Black-owned and Black-led businesses. At the same time, our corner store work is committed to healing racial tensions, particularly between Black and Arab communities. The 63rd & Racine Healthy Marketplace embodies these traditions by demonstrating the viability of a grassroots business collaboration between these two communities.

Partnering with the City of Chicago on this project is not contingent on our support for any particular initiative. Like many of our partners and resident leaders in Englewood, we remain deeply troubled by recent policy announcements. IMAN will continue to stand alongside those most directly affected by decisions and strategies that are not in the best interest of the community.

We will also continue to partner with those working in the city, county, and state on projects that will support the establishment of more thriving and dynamic communities. We are grateful for this support, and will continue to raise private funds to cover the larger costs of the Corner Store Campaign’s vision.

“Path To Restoration” Bill Introduced into IL State Senate

After months of organizing at the grassroots levels and throughout the halls of the state capitol, IMAN’s latest legislative push was formalized as Senate Bill 3489: the Path to Restoration Bill. This crucial bill proposes a set of amendments to Illinois’ registry tracking individuals convicted of violent crimes against youth. Currently, individuals have no ability to contest their appearance on the registry, no way to correct inaccurate information posted to the database, and no way to petition for eventual removal. This effectively sentences many people to perpetual punishment and stigma long after they have fulfilled their prison terms, stripping them of the ability to fully heal from their past.

The Child Murderer and Violent Offender Against Youth Registry Act first passed in 2006, forcing returning citizens already facing barriers to re-entering society in a dignified manner to annually register in a statewide database. In 2012, this law evolved into the current Murderer and Violent Offender Against Youth Registry—after the passage of “Andrea’s Law”—under which men and women convicted of a violent crime against a youth or the murder of an adult must register for a period ranging from ten years up to natural life.

The “Path to Restoration” Bill will create a fairer, more transparent system, allowing individuals to amend incorrect information and appeal their inclusion in the database. It proposes an opportunity to reconcile returning citizens with victims and their families and to help restore the dignity stripped from so many in this process.

IMAN has secured bill sponsorships from State Senators Kimberly Lightford, Elgie Sims and Jackie Collins. The team, led by Organizer Nasir Blackwell and Staff Attorney/Organizer Aaron Siebert-Llera, will be mainstays in Springfield as they pursue additional legislative support. If the bill is signed into law, Illinois would become the first state in the nation to create a mechanism whereby a member of a violent registry can seek removal from the database.

IMAN has worked alongside returning citizens for two decades, many of whom were involved in violent crimes during their youth. We remain committed to justice during this legislative session and seek to streamline the registry, making it possible for registrants to advocate for themselves and to create a space for all impacted by violent crimes to heal.

If you are interested in advocating for criminal justice reform in Springfield or participating in community conversations with other leaders, legislators, residents and others directly impacted by violent crimes, contact Senior Organizer Shamar Hemphill,shamar@imancentral.org

Reflecting on Pastor Ron Taylor

Pastor Ron Taylor, a devoted community organizer, faith leader and one of IMAN’s dearest allies, passed away on January 20th, 2018. Lovingly known as “Pastor Ron”, Taylor was one of the founding members of United Congress of Community and Religious Organizations (UCCRO), where he served as Executive Director. He was also the founder and Senior Pastor of Disciples for Christ Church in Oak Lawn, Illinois.

Pastor Ron worked diligently as a faithful servant and a compassionate community leader, always uplifting those around him. At UCCRO, he dedicated himself issues such as criminal justice and immigration reform advocacy, and worked relentlessly to connect communities across racial and religious lines. Pastor Ron was a passionate organizer and ingenious leader, but most of all he was a friend.

IMAN staff who worked closely with Pastor Ron over the years shared their reflections on the profound impact he has had on their lives:

Shamar Hemphill
Senior Organizer

“I had the pleasure of working closely with and being mentored by Pastor Ron for over 10 years. In every open forum or internal strategy meeting, I’ve always referred to him as our “Muslim Pastor.” He truly was a shining example of leadership from behind the scenes, walking humbly while being a strong force for good. He championed working across divided communities, and taught me how to envision what our communities can become. It is with many tears, I can truly say that I loved Pastor Ron with all my heart. His legacy will live on through my work, but his loss will most definitely be felt in many organizing spaces where he left a big mark in the work.”

Alia Bilal
Director of Community Relations

“Before I officially started working in Development, I was IMAN’s main staff person assigned to the UCCRO team and Pastor Ron was the main staff member from his organization at the time. The UCCRO team met twice a month, traveled to Springfield together dozens of times per year, and planned advocacy events with one another. The year that Pastor Ron became the Executive Director of UCCRO was also the year I formally transitioned into IMAN’s Development Department and passed my UCCRO hat to one of my other IMAN colleagues. One of my favorite memories of him happened that year, when I attended the annual UCCRO Convention. I walked in the door and the first person I saw was Pastor Ron. I told him that I wasn’t quite sure how to just be a participant at UCCRO events, that it felt wrong to not be one of the organizers like I used to be. I remember him raising his eyebrow and giving me the huge sideways grin that he always wore and saying, ‘Alia, the Lord just answered both our prayers because our emcee just called in sick and we don’t have anyone to replace her, so congratulations, you’re our new emcee!’ And that was Pastor Ron: he led with grace, put people to work where he knew they would thrive, and always trusted in God to make things right at the end of the day. I will miss him so much.”

Sara Hamdan
Organizer

“In 2015, during the Dyett High School hunger strike, the organizers staged a sit-in at city hall. It felt a little somber–while the fight around Dyett was some of the most inspirational organizing I have witnessed in Chicago, it was all still cloaked in the undeniable reality of the lengths that black and brown communities have to go through to prove their humanity and deservingness. At some point, Pastor Ron, who I had been sitting next to, got up and starting leading the entire group in a spiritual. It was a beautiful moment where I could feel the power of the collective through the undeniable power and leadership of Pastor Ron.”