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Criminal Justice Reform

UCM is pushing city ordinances to enforce local and state laws for liquor stores in East St. Louis that engage in illegal activities and sales that promote food deserts, substance abuse, and increased criminal activity.



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The American criminal justice system holds almost 2.3 million people in 1,833 state prisons, 110 federal prisons, 1,772 juvenile correctional facilities, 3,134 local jails, 218 immigration detention facilities, and 80 Indian Country jails as well as in military prisons, civil commitment centers, state psychiatric hospitals, and prisons in the U.S. territories. Why are there so many people locked up?



Releasing "nonviolent drug offenders" would end mass incarceration

To end mass incarceration, UCM is investing in our communities and striving to develop community-based alternatives. This will benefit those at risk of incarceration for any offense. Releasing nonviolent drug offenders would be a step forward in this direction.


Prisons are "factories behind fences" that exist to provide companies with a huge labor force

Only 1% of the general population is employed by private companies in prisons, while 6% work for state-owned correctional industries. Prisons often rely on inmates to provide food service, laundry, and other operations with low or no pay and no benefits, allowing them to shift the costs of incarceration onto the incarcerated and hide the true cost of running prisons from most people.


People in prison for violent or sexual crime are too dangerous to be released.

It is time to consider policy changes for crimes beyond those considered low-risk. People convicted of serious and violent offenses, such as sexual assault and homicide, are least likely to re-offend after release. We need to find reliable alternatives that can help reduce mass incarceration.


Private prisons are the corrupt heart of mass incarceration

Less than 8% of all incarcerated people are held in private prisons. However, a range of private industries and public agencies still profit from mass incarceration. This is done by granting contracts to these companies, resulting in the cost of incarceration being shifted onto those incarcerated and their families, allowing budget cuts for institutions.


Expanding community supervision is the best way to reduce incarceration

Community supervision includes probation, parole, and pretrial supervision. In 2016, 168,000 people were incarcerated due to "technical violations" of probation or parole. Probation can lead to unnecessary incarceration if not reformed to support success rather than detect mistakes. It is not a reliable alternative unless these reforms are made.




EXPO is a group of leaders comprised of formerly incarcerated men and women who works to end mass incarcerations, eliminate all forms of structural discrimination against formerly incarcerated people, and restore formerly incarcerated people to full participation in the lives of communities. EXPO leaders and members provide support to each other and organize to change the unjust criminal system in Illinois. Support is received through family, friends, and allies of currently and formerly incarcerated people who may or may not have experienced incarceration directly, but have been affected indirectly.

UCM has partnered with EXPO to develop an East St. Louis, IL Chapter. We are linking faith with justice!



The underlying problem with the school-to-prison pipeline is the use of court referrals as a means of disciplining misbehaved kids in schools. Court referrals are the primary factor in kids becoming first-time offenders. 

The second factor in kids entering the juvenile justice system is the widespread overuse of suspensions and expulsions. Studies show that in-school and out-of-school suspensions, complete expulsions, and court referral arrests stemming from conduct violations typical in adolescent behavior do not curtail such behaviors. In this same research, there is an indication that African American and Hispanic students are most often disciplined for more subjective offenses; acts such as throwing food, cursing, disobeying a teacher, loitering, or making excessive noise, whereas their Caucasian schoolmates are less likely to be suspended for more concrete offenses that include smoking, skipping school, or vandalism.

Two policies/actions currently used in schools that generate the mass introduction to the juvenile justice system are Zero Tolerance Policies and Outsourced Disciplined/Officers in School. Zero Tolerance Policies have increased the number of suspensions and expulsions. Having officers in schools began as an act of protection, but has become the leading source of juvenile arrests. 

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