Skip to content

Communities and Relatives of Illinois Incarcerated Citizens (CRIIC)

Families and loved ones know how isolating it can be to have someone you care about incarcerated, and navigating the Illinois Department of Corrections can be difficult. At CRIIC, we support each other and share our triumphs as well as the tough times. We are there when family and friends don’t know who to turn to. CRIIC works to offer possible solutions and suggestions when loved ones run into problems with visiting, commissary, and other issues.


Communities and Relatives of Illinois’ Incarcerated Citizens (CRIIC) was officially established in 2007, uniting a group of local people whose loved ones were sentenced to juvenile life without parole (JLWOP). At that time, Illinois had just over 100 men and one woman who were sentenced to life without the possibility of parole prior to their 18th birthdays. CRIIC began meeting at Northwestern Law School, called together by the Bluhm Legal Clinic and members of the Illinois Coalition for the Fair Sentencing of Youth. The Coalition was organized to address the practice of sentencing children to die in prison, and it quickly became clear to Coalition members that the family members and loved ones of people who were incarcerated were also directly affected by such sentences.

After the 2012 US Supreme Court decision in Miller v Alabama, a huge wave of hope erupted. There was now a chance to see loved ones sentenced to JLWOP return home. CRIIC has since evolved to include anyone who has a loved one who is incarcerated, regardless of their age at sentencing or incarceration.


You are not alone. We bring together people with incarcerated loved ones for support and so we can advocate for Illinois policy change together.

CRIIC’s Impact

Increased visitation rights are a major focus of this advocacy work. Some of our wins include increasing the number of in-person visits that each person who is incarcerated can have to seven per month, and making it clear to the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) that video visits are not equivalent to or interchangeable with in-person visits.

Advocates also worked to establish a Family Liaison in the IDOC. The Family Liaison handles complaints and issues from people who are visiting their loved ones who are incarcerated. After this office was established, CRIIC members helped put legislation into effect that requires the Family Liaison to publish an annual report on complaints and resolutions on the IDOC website. Making this information public helps raise awareness of the problems people experience while visiting prisons. It’s also a meaningful first step towards holding IDOC accountable and making sure that the rights of visitors are not violated. 


Our volunteers work together to support people who are incarcerated in Illinois.

Christmas Cards

Each year CRIIC members gather together to send Christmas cards and photos to their loved ones and many others inside. We know the holidays are difficult for those inside and their loved ones outside. Being together as a community and knowing you are not alone often helps.

Visiting Prisons

We have an annual trip to Menard Correctional Center located in Chester, Illinois. We have hosted loved ones who would otherwise be unable to visit. We take a bus and stay over for 2 nights. Restore Justice has been able to find funding for this trip. COVID-19 put a stop to the trip but we are hopeful to be able to begin these visits again in late 2023.

Join us

CRIIC meets monthly for legislative updates, litigation updates, prison issues, and to share our stories. We know you matter. Contact us for more information.