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Logan Correctional Center
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Advocates say Illinois’ treatment of prisoners with mental illness is so bad — the prison system is in a “state of emergency.” They’re asking a federal judge to intervene.

James Kluppelberg
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Illinois is finally making good on some of its most overdue bills — compensating people who were unjustly imprisoned.

flickr/meeshpants

Illinois is making a concerted effort to encourage former prisoners to put skills they learned behind bars to use in the real world. 

Fewer than one percent of applicants with criminal records are turned away when they apply to the state for a professional license, but Illinois' Secretary of Financial and Professional Regulation, Bryan Schneider, says anecdotally, the department knows many former convicts don't even try.

Closed Tinley Park Mental Health Center
Brian Mackey / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Gov. Bruce Rauner's administration announced Friday afternoon that a portion of a state mental health facility in Elgin will become a ward for prisoners with mental illness.

Illinois' hand was forced to do something along these lines; the government agreed in settling a 2007 lawsuit, Rasho v. Baldwin, that alleged poor treatment of mentally ill prisoners.

In a press release, Department of Corrections Director John Baldwin calls the agreement between it and the Department of Human Services a "fundamental change."

Sarah Jane Rhee

In Illinois, thousands of African American men are released from prison each year. But, without support from government and community, many will go back. 

solitarywatch.com

Isolation has proven harmful for the human psyche. Yet every year, tens of thousands of prisoners across the country are left alone for virtually every hour of the day in solitary confinement.

Illinois Times

That's the question reporter for the Illinois Times Patrick Yeagle asks in his cover story. He explores calls for putting fewer criminals in prison while sending more of them through rehabilitation programs. Yeagle writes about how "tough on crime" efforts of the 80s and 90s are being re-thought, though Illinois has been slow to join other states in revamping policies and laws.

BrettLevinPhotography / Flickr

Low level marijuana users may soon catch a break in Illinois. Rather than going to jail, it'd be more like getting a speeding ticket.

The repercussions for having pot vary; Rep. Kelly Cassidy says there's a patchwork of more than 100 different local ordinances all over the state.

"And the outcome from this patchwork system puts in place an unjust and confusing system wherein where you live and what you look like dictates whether or not you'll be arrested for extremely low-level marijuana possession," she says.