When people are released from prison, they face challenges that hinder their path to healing and becoming productive members of society. Specifically, due to systemic societal and legal barriers, it is extremely difficult for formerly incarcerated people to secure gainful employment and find affordable housing.
In order to alleviate the reentry burden, a number of organizations in and around Chicago offer aid and programs to and for returning citizens. These services include everything from housing help and job training to legal aid for record expungement.
Housing, Education & Job Training / Opportunities
The Safer Foundation provides opportunities for employment, education, and advocacy to people who have been directly impacted by the criminal legal system.
Illinois Prison Project
The Illinois Prison Project provides direct representation to people in the Illinois Department of Corrections, trains and supports attorneys who provide direct representation, and empowers incarcerated people and their families to advocate for themselves.
Chicago Urban League
Since 1916, the Chicago Urban League has helped people find jobs, secure affordable housing, enhance their educational experiences, and grow their businesses.
Cabrini Green Legal Aid
Cabrini Green Legal Aid mitigates the criminal records barrier by employing an interdisciplinary approach, bringing together teams of lawyers and social workers to comprehensively support client goals.
Uptown People’s Law Center
Uptown People’s Law Center (UPLC) advocates for prisoners, tenants, and disabled people denied public benefits. UPLC is a full-service, community based, legal clinic with strong expertise in the areas of housing law, Social Security disability income, and prisoners’ rights issues.
First Defense Legal Aid
First Defense Legal Aid mobilizes lawyers and over-policed community members to fill gaps in public defense and create, protect, and engage replicable alternatives to the criminal system, starting with its entry points.
Advocacy & Reform
John Howard Association of Illinois
The John Howard Association monitors prisons and advances independent oversight of carceral systems to promote humane treatment and increased transparency.
Women’s Justice Institute
The Women’s Justice Institute promotes decarceration, harm reduction, and improved well-being and outcomes for impacted women, their children, families and communities.
Restore Justice’s Returning Citizens Network (RCN)
Since February 2018, Restore Justice has hosted monthly meetings for returning citizens. These meetings are led by Restore Justice’s impacted staff and attended by individuals who have been impacted by the Illinois criminal legal system.
Restore Justice’s Communities and Relatives of Illinois’ Incarcerated Children (CRIIC)
CRIIC meets monthly for legislative updates, litigation updates, prison issues, and to share stories.
Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation
Precious Blood builds relationships among youth and families impacted by violence and/or conflict; creates safe spaces where people can experience radical hospitality, hope and healing; and promotes a restorative justice approach to conflict.
Lawndale Christian Legal Center
Lawndale Christian Legal Center is the only community-based legal practice in Chicago dedicated to the felony criminal defense of children and emerging adults.
Inner-City Muslim Action Network
The Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN) is a community organization that fosters health, wellness and healing in the inner-city by organizing for social change, cultivating the arts, and operating a holistic health center.
James B. Moran Center for Youth Advocacy
The Moran Center provides community-based legal, social work, and restorative services for youth and families.
Saint Leonard’s Ministries: Saint Leonard’s House & Grace House
Since its opening in 1994, the Grace House residential program has provided interim housing, emotional and spiritual support, and professional counseling to women who are exiting the Illinois prison system.