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PRESS RELEASE: Cabrini Green Legal Aid (CGLA) To Acquire CLAIM

CHICAGO, Illinois (May 21, 2014) - Cabrini Green Legal Aid (CGLA) and Chicago Legal Advocacy for Incarcerated Mothers (CLAIM) have agreed that CGLA will acquire CLAIM as a program of CGLA, effective July 1, 2014. This transaction will preserve CLAIM’s programming, and name, strengthen CGLA’s increasingly comprehensive services and advocacy for people affected by the justice system, and benefit at-risk constituencies across the state.

“CLAIM provides a voice and support for incarcerated women and their children that no one else does,” explained CLAIM interim executive director Mary Morten. “It’s critical that this work continues, and we are thrilled that the torch will be passed to CGLA.”

“CGLA is honored to carry on the work of CLAIM, which will strengthen and complement our work, especially our growing advocacy efforts,” said CGLA executive director Gretchen Slusser. “We are counting on all those who share CGLA’s and CLAIM’s commitment to serve incarcerated mothers and their children to stand with us and support this work.”

After careful consideration and due diligence, the leadership of both organizations have determined that CGLA’s acquisition of CLAIM will make CGLA the leading expert and advocate in the state on the real-life effects of the criminal justice system. CLAIM’s Visible Voices and Speakers’ Bureau programs and its expertise on the issues of incarcerated women and their families complement CGLA’s existing reputation and track record on criminal expungement issues. With both organizations’ legislative and other stakeholder relationships, and expanded direct service data to drive advocacy, CGLA will become a powerhouse for policy advocacy.

The combined programs, client bases, and geographic presence will make CGLA one of the state’s most comprehensive legal and social support organizations for individuals and families who interact with the criminal justice system.  

CLAIM began almost 30 years ago as a legal services and advocacy organization that advocates for policies and programs that benefit families of imprisoned mothers and reduces the incarceration of women and girls.  The organization is a national leader on policies that help maintain the bond between mothers and their children.

The combination of programs will ensure the sustainability of this essential work through an estimated $1 million savings over 5 years through a reduction in administrative costs, ongoing operating efficiencies, the expressed commitment of institutional funders for this acquisition, and a compelling case for support based on impact and innovation that set CGLA apart.

CGLA began in 1973 as a young attorney’s response to requests for help from public housing residents through his church. Today, CGLA is a recognized leader in sealing and expunging criminal records, as well as providing integrated legal and support services for thousands of individuals who struggle with the negative consequences of a past encounter with the criminal justice system.

By 2017, CGLA aspires to offer a full complement of exceptional pro bono legal and holistic services for men, women, fathers, mothers, guardians, and their children who are at risk of negative impact from the criminal justice system. The CLAIM program will be an integral component of CGLA.

The acquisition has been generously supported by: Chicago Foundation for Women, Alphawood Foundation, Marguerite Casey Foundation, Polk Bros Foundation, Chicago Community Trust, Chicago Bar Foundation, Pierce family Foundation and SeaChange Capital – Lodestar Fund for Nonprofit Collaboration.


Gretchen Slusser
Executive Director, Cabrini Green Legal Aid (CGLA)

Mary Morten
Interim Executive Director, Chicago Legal Advocacy for Incarcerated Mothers (CLAIM)

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Please consider making a gift in honor of CLAIM’s past work and the very bright future we’re looking forward to in partnership with Cabrini Green Legal Aid. In order to continue offering the services that we do to the women and families of Illinois, we need to raise the necessary funds to do so.

Please help us secure the future of CLAIM's work with CGLA by making a contribution today.

Contributions can be made here: https://www.crowdrise.com/claimchicago/fundraiser/CLAIM

Equal Voice Highlights Visible Voices

Equal Voice iconAfter getting out of prison Marquitta Nelson never imagined she would voluntarily go back, but earlier this year she did. She was fulfilling a promise sMarquitta Nelsonhe made to herself. Marquitta and other members of Chicago Legal Advocacy for Incarcerated Mothers (CLAIM), met with wardens and corrections officials at Dwight Correctional Center to advocate for improved healthcare for pregnant prisoners, more services for families of prisoners and discussed ways the community can be helpful. Being there brought back a flood of memories about her experience and her fears. “Fortunately for me, I found a way out, and I feel it is my duty to reach back and help the women who are sitting in Reception having the same thoughts I had years ago.”

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UN Expert Report

 Rashida ManjooThe following is adapted from a media release from the U.N. Office of the High Commission on Human Rights. CLAIM's Gail Smith took part in a meeting of experts in May at the University of Chicago with Rashida Manjoo, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on violence against women. On October 28, Ms. Manjoo issued a report warning of the disproportionate rate of increase of women’s incarceration compared to their male counterparts, as well as harsher detention conditions for them than men. “Women are being incarcerated for many reasons including incarceration for illegal activities which they commit in response to coercion by abusive partners,” Ms. Manjoo said during the presentation of her special report on the ‘Causes, Conditions and Consequences of Women’s Incarceration’ to the UN General Assembly. “A strong link exists between violence against women and their detention, whether prior to, during or post-incarceration. For instance, evidence suggests that incarcerated women have been victims of violence at a much higher rate prior to entering prison than is acknowledged by the legal system generally.”

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Support Our Work!

Please donate to CLAIM today! Please help CLAIM protect family rights, improve policy, and provide legal aid and client education programs to maintain the mother-child bond. This spring, we encourage you to consider donating to -- or even sponsoring -- our special "Celebrate CLAIM!" event on May 9 (form available here)! We welcome sponsorships via PayPal; please email completed forms to jessica@claim-il.org. If you would like to purchase a ticket to the event, please visit celebrateclaim.brownpapertickets.com. Thank you!


Chicago Legal Advocacy for Incarcerated Mothers (CLAIM) provides legal and educational services to maintain the bond between imprisoned mothers and their children.

CLAIM advocates for policies and programs that benefit families of imprisoned mothers and reduce incarceration of women and girls.

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Quick Facts

  • More than 16,000 women go to jail annually in Cook County Jail and about 82% are mothers.
  • About 80% of women detained at Cook County Jail are charged with non-violent crimes and only 1.8% of the 3,100 women admitted to Illinois prisons in 2009 were classified as a high security risk.

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