Each year, during Stories of Second Chances, we gather with the Restore Justice community to share stories about second chances and inequities of the criminal legal system, and to remind ourselves that we are not in this fight alone. “We need to change the narrative about what a prisoner is. I want people to know the worth that’s behind these cells,” Brian Harrington explains.
Typically a lunch, we hope this year’s virtual show still inspires, motivates, and engages. We are ready for another year in the movement to reform draconian sentencing laws, rid our state of cruel prison conditions, and prevent any further mistreatment of families. We will keep working to eliminate all juvenile life without parole sentences. We will keep advancing measures to support families and keep loved ones together. We will keep demanding more testing, transparency, and early releases for people incarcerated during this pandemic.
If you missed the show, don’t worry. You can watch it here.
We want to thank each and every person who participates in Stories of Second Chances, everyone who bids on auction items and donates, and all those who help make our first virtual fundraiser a success.
Thank you Hoopla Communications and Sweet Baby Media, who helped us take our message and turn it into a “real” event online.
Thank you to the After Dark Combo for selecting and recording music for our show:
- Piano – Abigail Persell
- Guitar – Nathan Andalman
- Trumpet – Asher Baron
- Trombone – Katherine Koeppen
- Saxophone – Joanie Daye
- Bass – Soren Dorr
- Drums – Eva Duvall
We also extend a special thank you to Matthew Bufis and the Evanston Township High School Jazz Program.
We’d also like to give special thanks to our panelists. These panelists, led by Restore Justice Program Manager Wendell Robinson and Outreach Director Julie Anderson, talked about the ways the criminal legal system tore them and their families apart, but also, about the ways they found hope. Most of the men received juvenile life without parole sentences; the law condemned them to die in prison before they could even vote. Yet, they never started believing, and, alongside advocates and lawyers, they never stopped working. Because of that work and the Supreme Court’s Miller decision, these men are all home. Four of the moms on the panel had sons benefit from Miller. Panelist Cynthia Morfin said she danced alone in her kitchen after hearing the news. “What a joy, what a joy, what a joy,” Olivia Cal declared.
*Brian also performed a resounding spoken word piece, “Untold Grave Conditions.” Thank you, Brian, for your resonant and moving performance.
We also want to thank everyone who donated (or donates) to our auction, which is open until noon CST on Friday, December 11. From art created by men who are incarcerated to unique experiences provided by board members, we are honored by your gifts.
Thank you to our artists:
And to those who donated experiences and other items:
Chicago White Sox
Lisa Yun Lee
We’re also immensely grateful for our Restore Justice Foundation and Restore Justice Illinois Boards of Directors, and our Stories of Second Chances Host Committee. These incredible people made this event happen. In addition to donating, they poured their hearts into generating enthusiasm and inviting their friends, colleagues, and entire networks.
Restore Justice Foundation Board:
Howard Conant, Jr
Barbara Flynn Currie
Kevin Gallagher, Chair
Restore Justice Illinois Board:
Howard Conant, Jr
Garien Gatewood, Chair
Abner Mikva (1926-2016)
Founding Board Member
Stories of Second Chances Host Committee:
Carrie and Rob Andalman
Jennifer Pope and Rakesh Madhava
Laura and Bob Watson