Press and News

Browse the press and news articles.

CLAIM Leaders Participate in Equal Voice Convention

Gayle, Ruthie and Jenice at the Equal Voice convening in L.A.

On July 22nd, CLAIM’s Executive Director Gayle Nelson and Visible Voices members Jenice Hatcher and Ruthie Reed flew to California to participate in the Marguerite Casey Foundation’s Equal Voice biennial convention. The name “Equal Voice” was impactful to Jenice because it “connected all of us together.” Convention attendees were from across the United States and had diverse backgrounds. Over four hundred attendees joined together to lift their voices and advocate for systematic change creating a more just and equitable society.
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Settlement ends shackling

newborn infantThe courageous women who filed the federal lawsuit after they were shackled during labor, and in some cases, delivery of their babies, have reached a settlement with Cook County.  The Chicago Tribune coverage can be seen here.
We are pleased that Cook County Jail has implemented vastly improved practices for pregnant women in custody. We hope that pregnant women in Illinois prisons and downstate jails will soon have the same protection.
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Visible Voices at national Equal Voice convening

Thurston and Yolanda at online conveningOn Sunday, May 20, members of CLAIM's Visible Voices group gathered at the Michael Barlow Center to take part in the Marguerite Casey Foundation's Equal Voice online convention. Family members who support change in sentencing and the criminal legal system joined us. Members of the Visible Voices Leadership Council who attended the national convening at Chicago's Navy Pier in 2008 provided perspective on progress the movement has made.

We enjoyed Lou Malnati's pizza and the opportunity to get to know newcomers before moving to the computer lab. We are grateful to Bob Dougherty and Matthew Wiley of St. Leonard's ministries for their generous hosting.

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New Faces and Good-byes

2012 is a year of new beginnings at CLAIM. In January, CLAIM welcomed Gayle Gayle NelsonNelson as the new Executive Director and Gail Smith shifted into the Senior Policy Director role. More recently, Zenaida Alonzo left hZenaida Alonzoer position as Staff Attorney/ Pro Bono Director to take on a non legal opportunity at the Juvenile Detention Center.
Zenaida Alonzo joined claim in August of 2007. Clients could always count on her calm voice and knowledge of the law. Volunteers also appreciated her guidance.
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Cook County Examines Collect Call System at Cook County Jail

          CLAIM applauds Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle’s call to reexamine the County Jail’s Securis collect call contract. The announcement came after WBEZ, Chicago’s Public Radio Station, aired a story examining the exceedingly high cost of calls for Cook County Jail inmates to contact their families, legal aid organizations, and others. 
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IDOC Director supports ban on shackling pregnant inmates.

We are delighted to report that Illinois Department of Corrections Director Tony Godinez has expressed support for a law to end shackling of pregnant women in the custody of Illinois prisons. We appreciate the director's insight and his commitment to the health and safety of mothers and infants.  You can see CLAIM's letter to Director Godinez here.cutest infant
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Stop Shackling Pregnant Women

Pregnant Prisoner Shackled

House Bill 1958, which protects pregnant inmates from being shackled, is expected to be called for a vote in the Illinois Senate tomorrow, November 29. Although Illinois was the first state in the nation to ban shackling during labor, women with nonviolent offenses have been taken to the hospital in leg irons, with their hands cuffed to belly chains. This causes medical risks to the mother and baby. 
Please call your state senator today or first thing tomorrow morning! If you need to look up your state senator, please click here.
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Congratulations to the 2011 Honorees!

2011 Award winners





At our recent Jazz Benefit, CLAIM’s Board President, Drea Hall, led the program as we honored the some of people who have made CLAIM’s work possible in the past year.

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Stop Shackling Pregnant Prisoners

There is a great new article by Alex Berg in the Daily Beast on shackling and national trends here.

Volunteer Training and the New Probate Act Amendment

CLAIM is offering two training sessions for volunteers this June. On June 4 at 10:00 a.m. we will present our comprehensive five-hour training for Family Law Clinic volunteers. The session teaches skills for interviewing and maintaining confidentiality in the jail setting, as well as short-term and court-ordered guardianship, custody, divorce, visitation, foster care and termination of parental rights. On June 8 at 5:30 p.m. we will present a session on representing clients in contested minor guardianship cases, with a focus on discharge of guardians. Both sessions will provide MCLE credits.

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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 If you would like to purchase a ticket to the event, please visit Thank you!

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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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