"I was assigned to be on the band for ninety days and it was worse than prison for me. It kind of made me feel like an animal."
- Edmund Buck
On July 17, a coalition of organizations, including Crossroads Fund grantees Circles & Ciphers, Organized Communities Against Deportations, Chicago Community Bond Fund, Moms United Against Violence and Incarceration, and Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation, hosted "Challenging Electronic Monitoring in Cook County." This event was the Chicago launch of a national campaign focused on demystifying electronic monitoring and building a movement to slow the rise and, ultimately, end the use of this surveillance technology. Crossroads Fund provided a grant to help make this event and campaign launch possible.
The event consisted of two panels and group workshops. The first panel was moderated by Robert Agnew from JustLeadershipUSA and featured Lavette Mayes from the Chicago Community Bond Fund, Edmund Buck from EDOVO, Manny Black from the Lawndale Christian Legal Center, and Nigel Lee from Precious Blood, who all have previously been "on the shackle." This group discussed their experience with electronic monitoring and the arbitrary restrictions on their movements, inconsistent parole officers, and an exorbitant amount of fees and costs that the person on electronic monitoring must pay.
The second panel was moderated by Monica Cosby from Moms United and consisted of Crossroads Fund Board Member Emmanuel Andre from Circles & Ciphers and Northside Transformative Justice Center, Irene Romulo from the Chicago Community Bond Fund, Cathryn Crawford from Lawndale Christian Legal Center, and James Kilgore from Challenging E-Carceration. This group discussed ways to challenge the normalization of electronic monitoring and their worries about the long-term impact of government surveillance on the lives of Black and Brown people.
The use of electronic monitoring is increasingly seen as a more humane future of incarceration by sheriffs, judges, elected officials, and private prison companies as the national call to end mass incarceration grows. The reality, as told by those who have experienced electronic monitoring, is that the harms are similar. The coalition leading the local campaign all see the dehumanizing impact of electronic monitoring on the lives of people throughout Chicago. The national campaign, Challenging E-Carceration, is seeking groups to sign onto a ten point list which would create a common set of standards for how electronic monitoring is used around the country. This initial campaign is designed to significantly reduce the immediate harms that a person on electronic monitoring experiences. The organizations involved are exploring possible policy and legislative interventions to reduce the harm and prevalence of electronic monitors.
If you're interested in learning more about the campaign or have any questions, please feel free to contact Ed Vogel at firstname.lastname@example.org.