John Howard Association of Illinois (JHA) works to achieve a fair, humane and cost-effective criminal justice system by promoting adult and juvenile prison reform, leading to successful re-integration and enhanced community safety.
$500,000 Award Recognizes JHA for Extraordinary Creativity and Effectiveness
The John Howard Association, Chicago, Illinois, February 5, 2015 – The John Howard Association (JHA) is one of nine nonprofit organizations around the world, and the only one in Chicago, to receive the 2015 MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions. The Award, which was announced today, recognizes exceptional nonprofit organizations who have demonstrated creativity and impact, and invests in their long-term sustainability with sizable one-time grants.
JHA regularly inspects all facilities in Illinois’ adult and juvenile prison systems, monitors parole and reentry mechanisms, and communicates with more than 3,000 inmates, loved ones, and concerned citizens each year to provide assistance and track their experiences. As the sole independent watchdog over the state’s correctional facilities, JHA promotes a cost effective and humane justice system that prioritizes public safety and successful reintegration into society. Through objective monitoring and working closely with those working in and affected by the state’s correctional system, JHA provides insight into Illinois’ prison system, allowing us to educate the public and policy makers about the real consequences of criminal justice policies.
JHA uses monitoring work, research, and policy recommendations to drive reform at the facility, agency and state policy levels. For example, JHA exposed deficits in medical treatment for our adult inmate population leading to public hearings on prison healthcare, and an audit of the Department of Corrections healthcare system; following a JHA report on the fundamental flaws of the Half-Way Back program instituted by the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice, the agency dismantled the program and invested the resources into more effective programming for youth.
According to JHA Interim Executive Director Jenny Vollen-Katz, “JHA plays a vital role in Illinois as the only non partisan watchdog and policy advocate that observes and reports on conditions of confinement, correctional programming and reentry. JHA uses our unique vantage point to promote safe, humane, and effective criminal justice policy. This award will allow JHA to continue and expand the important work of prison reform, stemming the tide of mass incarceration and investing our resources in programs and policies that will improve outcomes for individuals, communities and the entire State.”
“The John Howard Association’s independent voice plays an indispensable role in helping to ensure that Illinois’ justice systems are fair, effective, and humane,” said MacArthur Vice President Elspeth Revere, who leads the awards program. “MacArthur applauds John Howard Association’s creativity and effectiveness, and we hope this recognition and investment will help sustain its work and expand its impact.”
According to MacArthur, the Award is not only recognition for past leadership and success but also an investment in the future. The John Howard Association will use its $500,000 MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions to establish an innovation fund that will enhance our communications, public outreach, and volunteer coordination capacities.
For these Awards, the Foundation does not seek or accept nominations. To qualify, organizations must demonstrate exceptional creativity and effectiveness; have reached a critical or strategic point in their development; show strong leadership and stable financial management; have previously received MacArthur support; and engage in work central to one of MacArthur’s core programs.
Additional information about why MacArthur selected the John Howard Association for the Award and an overview video are at http://www.macfound.org/maceirecipients/90/
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MacArthur Foundation award video.
John Howard Association of Illinois
Grant amount: $500,000
John Howard Association of Illinois
Conducting independent oversight to ensure humane and fair treatment of the incarcerated in Illinois
As the sole independent watchdog over the state’scorrectional facilities, the John Howard Association of Illinois promotes an efficient justice system that ensures public safety while treating the incarcerated with dignity andhelping them successfully reintegrate into society.
Through objective monitoring and close collaboration with those working in and affected by the justice system, the Association provides visibility into typically closed institutions and educates the public and policymakers about the real consequences of criminal justice policies.
The Association regularly inspects all facilities in the Illinois adult and juvenile prison systems, monitors parole and reentry mechanisms, and communicates with more than 3,000 inmates and family members each year to provide assistance and track their experiences.
Through its research, policy recommendations, and collaborations with correctional facilities and state agencies, the Association has driven reform at the facility, agency, and state policy levels.Following a report from the Association exposing flaws in the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice’s “Half-Way Back” program for parole violators, the agency abandoned the initiative and invested resources in more effective transitional programming.The Association’s reporting prompted the Illinois General Assembly to hold public hearings on prison healthcare, which led to an audit of the Department of Corrections’ healthcare system.
Collaborating with a broad-based coalition opposing harsh mandatory-minimum sentences for illegal gun possession, the Association’s advocacyled to the formation of the Illinois Joint Committee on Criminal Justice Reform, whichwill explore more balanced and judicious use of incarceration in response to crime.
The Association will use its $500,000 MacArthur Award to establish an innovation fund, as well as to enhance its communications, public outreach, and volunteer coordination capacities.
Logan Correctional Center (Logan) is located in Lincoln, Illinois, about a two hour and forty-five minute drive south of Chicago and a 30-minute drive north of Springfield. Logan was repurposed in March 2013 as a multiple security level female facility, which also operates the female intake Reception and Classification center (R&C) for the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC).
Read JHA's Special Report: Overcrowded, Underresourced, and Ill-Conceived: Logan Correctional Center, 2013/14 (PDF).
Lawrence Correctional Center (Lawrence) is located in Lawrence County, Illinois, about a four hour drive south of Chicago and an hour southeast of Effingham, near the Indiana border. It is a medium-security male facility within the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC).