Why We Show Up
Most people are released from Cook County Jail with essentially nothing but the clothes they were arrested in. What would you do if you found yourself on the street without a phone, money, or any of your belongings? How would you get home? How would you contact a loved one? Cook County Jail is legally bound to provide bus cards and phone calls to those being released, but all too often, those basic allowances are not made. These discrepancies can be more than inconvenient and demeaning, they can be dangerous. That's where we come in.
Safe transportation home from jail/ to police precincts to collect essential belongings like phones, wallets, and house keys is one of the most important services we can provide at Chicago Community Jail Support. Helping people get back to their lives and loved ones after incarceration in the safest way possible is one of our primary goals.
One of the most essential services we provide is free phone calls for those being released to contact loved ones and connect with them immediately upon getting out. It's the first step to recouping after the hardship of being arrested and held at Cook County Jail.
Many people are released from Cook County Jail in unsafe weather conditions wearing only a tshirt or one thin layer of clothing, even in freezing cold Chicago temperatures. Our work becomes even more important when the weather turns extreme. We do everything we can to keep folks warm/ cool, hydrated, and get them home safely.
The food, drinks, and especially water given to those held in Cook County Jail are for sure unappetizing, but can also even be dangerous to consume (reports of lockjaw or serious illness from unsafe drinking water at CCJ are not uncommon). Many people are very hungry and thirsty upon release. We provide drinks to rehydrate folks and tasty portable snacks for their trip home. Their families and loved ones who sometimes wait over 8 hours for them to be processed out can also benefit from a snack or drink while they wait. No one is turned away.
We offer more in depth assistance to anyone who needs it. We are a conduit for housing assistance, substance abuse help, and more. To us, mutual aid goes beyond just immediate assistance and we strive to work long term with those who want our ongoing help. While we can't provide long term housing or mental health services ourselves, we always do our best to help people find the resources they need through our networks.
We know that incarceration is not only harmful financially and physically, but mentally and emotionally. We strive to provide emotional support for those being released from Cook County Jail by showing up everyday and letting these folks and their families know they are not alone during a difficult time. Ultimately, this is why we do what we do.