#4 No Justice, No Peace

Inheriting the Grid #4

By Daniel Tucker — The things we want, and mean, when we say “justice”? On Monday January 29th a live debate between aldermanic candidates in the 25th ward (Pilsen) took place at the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum and was broadcast live on WBEZ’s morning radio show 848. The alderman said he had a community planning group to approve […]

The Body Politic: Malachi Ritscher (1954–2006)

By Jamillah James — On 3 November 2006, Malachi Ritscher, long-time Chicago resident and fixture in the free jazz community, revised the history of protest with one final act: he, as Alice Herz, Norman Morrison, and eight others had before him, committed self-immolation (suicide by fire), in protest of American conflict abroad; Ritscher in response to the current Gulf […]

Remembering David Saxner

By AREA Staff — David Saxner passed away un-expectedly on November 23, 2006, from a massive heart attack. Remem-bering David Saxner is something that I do on a daily basis, and I hope that everyone that knew him or had the least contact with him will never forget him. I first met David in one of the legal visiting […]

One Year of Chicago Ghost Bikes

By Chicago Ghost Bikes — It has been over a year since Isai Medina was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver while walking his bike along the sidewalk on Western Avenue. At that time many people close to Medina and many who did not know him at all became compelled to recognize his senseless death by installing a Ghost […]

Affordable Power to the People

By Kari Lydersen — A group in Bridgeport addresses people's inability to pay rising utility prices using direct action, direct service and popular education.  “Why Children Stink, Why People Die” “How do you like your Elders—baked, boiled, or fried?” “It’s murder by fire in Chicago. It’s utility roulette.” “Mayor Daley: Bad Gas.” These quirky slogans are the titles of […]

Activists Travail, Triumph over Tribune

By Mitchell Szczepanczyk — Is Chicago’s wealthiest news corporation breaking communications laws and getting away with it? How are they able to operate with such impunity, and what local groups are responding? Imagine a company which thrives on criminal activity, whose private profits come to no small part from the theft of public resources. What’s worse, this company spends […]

No Justice, No Peace

By AREA — This issue of AREA is a response to the contemporary criminal justice system, and those assumptions and practices that serve as its foundation. Many people have interrogated whether there is actually any justice in the criminal justice sys-tem, and with good cause. The contributors to AREA Chicago: No Justice, No Peace call on us to […]


By AREA — The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the history of the world. Never before in human history have we relied so heavily on cages to guarantee our security, to make us feel safe, or to provide solutions to our suffering. The voices in this section of AREA challenge the notion that our practices […]

Superficial Reform?

By Paul Street — During recent years, local, state, and federal policymakers in the United States have begun to pay more attention to the critical problem of effectively integrating the nation’s ever-rising army of ex-prisoners back into “the free world.” The “challenges of prisoner reentry,” which disproportionately impact black and non-white populations, have become a source of significantly intensified […]

AREA #4 Justice Glossary

By AREA — ABOLITION is the act of “formally repealing an existing practice through legal means.” Among organizers in Chicago today, the most prominent use of the term is by the Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. Another group that draws from an abolitionist perspective is Critical Resistance, whose goal is to “end the Prison Industrial Complex.” […]

Rape Crisis in Womens Prison

By Michelle Van Natta — Illinois prison staff frequently sexually abuse women in prison. [1] Human Rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, as well as Illinois newspapers and formerly incarcerated women, have documented these abuses. Legal advocates have also carefully documented the extent of sexual abuse in Illinois’ prisons. As part of a 2004 civil rights case […]

Introducing: Womenandprison.org

By Beyondmedia Education — Women, especially poor women and women of color, experience violence at the hands of street cops, prison guards, johns, fathers, partners and lovers. For most women in prison, incarceration functions as one more in a series of acts of violence against them. Then, being incarcerated is used as an excuse for further acts of violence, […]

AREA Dialogue: Art on the Outside: Chicago Artists and Prisons

By AREA Staff — On Thursday January 11 2007, Daniel Tucker (DT) and Dan S. Wang (DSW) sat down with Laurie Jo Reynolds (LJR) and Marc Fischer (MF) to talk about their backgrounds and recent work doing art in collaboration with prisoners and on the topic of prison more broadly. Marc Fischer is a member of the groups Temporary […]

Mass Incarceration

By AREA — Published by Young Chicago Authors, Say What magazine is developed, written and edited by a group of 12 diverse teens. Say What is a vital resource for emerging writers and a space where young people’s voices can be heard and celebrated. In addition to providing information, our mission is to create connections between young writers […]

AREA Dialogue: Racism and Restorative Justice

By Paul McKenna — Restorative Justice is often put forward as a novel approach to reforming the justice system. But as Shirley Jones (SJ), Yusufu Mosley (YM), and Paul McKenna (PM) revealed in a wide-ranging discussion with Toussaint Losier (TL) at Wallace’s Catfish Corner on the West Side, the principles and practices of restorative justice have deep roots in […]


By AREA — Creating peace in the city requires an end to the cycles of imprisonment that all too often span generations. But for many children and youth in Chicago today, there few places to go without being seen or treated as a criminal. On the streets, the police target young people of color on a daily basis. […]

Visions of Justice

By AREA — 2006 was filled with massive controversy at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center (CCJTDC). The ACLU filed suit against the jail, claiming unsafe conditions and child abuse. They won the suit and a team of “experts” were brought in to oversee changes mandated by the settlement. There have been hundreds of articles and news […]

AREA Dialogue: Towards a Restorative Justice City: Ten years and Counting

By Cheryl Graves — This discussion was organized and facilitated by Cheryl Graves (CG) of the Community Justice for Youth Institute. Cheryl was joined by Peter Newman (PN) from the Resource Division of Juvenile Court, and by Patricia Zamora (PZ), who founded PAZworks and helped to start the Alternatives Peer Jury Program. Together they reflect on 10 years of […]

Introducing: No Child Left Behind Bars

By Critical Resistance Chicago — Does the practice of putting young people behind bars make the city of Chicago safer? How does a kid who runs away from home end up in jail? Does the act of detaining youth build strong communities? Does a cage solve anything? It is possible and imperative to use an abolitionist lens to imagine Chicago […]

AREA Dialogue: Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Pipeline

By Charles Bagget — What is the relationship between the discipline practices at Chicago Public Schools and the alarming rates of young people of color being locked up? The “Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Pipeline” offers a powerful way of looking at the relationship between approaches to discipline at Chicago Public Schools (CPS), and the alarming rates of young people of […]

Teaching, Transgressing: Film Studies in Juvenile Detention

By AREA Staff — A conversation between Ericka Adams (EA), Eréndira Morales (EM), Karen Benita Reyes (KBR), Laurie Schaffner (LS), and LaTosha Traylor (LT). From Theory to Reality In the summer of 2006, a group of graduate and undergraduate students at the University of Illinois at Chicago came together under the faculty sponsorship of sociologist Laurie Schaffner to study […]

At Night in the Grand Court—A Renovation

By AREA — From the Archives: A republished contribution from Whitewalls, A Journal of Art and Language #36, 1995 At Night in the Grand Court—A Renovation At Night in the Grand Court—A Renovation was an interdisciplinary art installation/event which took place on Friday, July 22, 1994 from 5 to 9pm at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center […]

Beyond Control: Cycles, coalitions, and waves of change in chicago communities

By AREA — “Maybe the time has come to work towards the prevention of disorderand catastrophe, and not merely towards their control.” —Giorgio Agamben When it comes to issues of public safety, we are connected by a shared misunderstanding of our own potential. Our paradigm is focused so much on policing and incapacitating that it is hard for […]

St. Leonard’s High School

By Ajitha Reddy — St. Leonard’s High School Teachers from an Albany Park high school serving the formerly incarcerated reflect on their work and six year history. For the last six years, we have participated in a free, community-based alternative high school for formerly incarcerated men and women. Collectively, we have taught, for hundreds of hours, in a program […]

Developing Justice in Illinois

By Josina Morita — The numbers are daunting: fifty-five percent of Black adult males in Chicago have felony records. In Illinois, Black men are 57 times more likely than white males to be in prison for drug offen-ses. There are more Black men in Illinois prisons than in state colleges and universities. Illinois’ “Tough on Crime” policy prescriptions of […]

The Seven Million Dollar Whitewash

By Julien Ball — After a four-year, $7 million investigation, special prosecutors have releas-ed their findings into police torture in Chicago, and the results are familiar. Once again, former Commander Jon Burge and the white police officers under him—who, in the words of the Chicago Tribune, “for two decades coerced dozens of confessions with fists, kicks, radiator burns, guns […]

AREA Dialogue: Community Justice and Philanthropy

By Craig Harshaw — To get their perspectives on Chicago’s community justice efforts and the criminal justice funding landscape, guest editor Ryan Hollon (RH) sat down with three Chicago-based leaders from different foundations. Deborah Bennett (DB) is a program officer at the Polk Brothers Foundation. Kristen Cox (KC) is a board member of the Synapses Foundation. Craig Harshaw (CH) […]

Reflections on Criminal Justice Reform and Philanthropy

By Deborah Harrington — Via email, AREA Chicago speaks to Deborah Harrington, President of the Woods Fund, to get her insights on criminal justice reform in Illinois. What (major) opportunities do you see for creating more coordinated city-wide work around criminal justice issues? How might funds and resources be used to help city-wide efforts realize their full potential? I […]

Covering the Landscape: Justice, Change, and Philanthropy in Chicago

By Jeanne Kracher — Since the 1960s and 70s, I think there has been a change in community consciousness, including in the communities that have been most affected in terms of who goes into prison. “Law and order” became the mantra. Even criminalized communities bought into law and order policies. There are realities about how crime changed in communities. […]

Chicago Justice Project

By Joseph Lipari — AREA Chicago talks to Joseph Lipari and Tracy Siska, creators of a web platform intended to network reports of police abuse throughout the city. Allegations that Chicago police officers engaged in acts of torture at the old Area Two and Three Headquarters date back to 1973. An official inquiry, released in May 2006 and focused […]

Surveilling Crime Control

By Mess Hall — (…with insights and inspiration from Mess Hall and Rogers Park residents.) Mayor Daley has declared that in the not-too-distant future, there will be a surveillance camera on every block of the city. But as of today, Chicago’s blue-light surveillance cameras are almost exclusively located in low-income communities of color. Rising investments in this surveillance technology, […]

Lowell Peace Makers

By Paul Fitzgerald — I first stepped through the 110-year-old front doors of Humboldt Park’s James Russell Lowell Elementary in September of 2005 as a new volunteer with the Northwestern University Settlement House’s AmeriCorps Project YES! program. The Lowell administration had announced a number of ambitious new projects in confronting their second year of probation under the No Child […]

Awful Acts and the Trouble with Normal

By Erica Meiners — In my Canadian hometown, where my dad’s neighborhood store, Iron Mountain, still sells WD-40 next to the tampons, Clifford Olson “snatched up girls like you,” my principal Mr. Gayle told my best friend Carla Salvail and I. “He will capture you and then…” Olson permeated the spring and summer of 1981. School assemblies lectured us […]