CHICAGO – Communities & Relatives of Illinois Incarcerated Children (CRIIC) is the recipient of the 2017 Kinship Award from the Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation (PBMR). The Kinship Award recognizes community contributions and social justice efforts that have strengthened PBMR’s mission of providing hope, healing, and hospitality to at-risk youth, and the families of those who have lost loved ones through violence or incarceration. CRIIC will receive the Kinship Award on Wednesday, April 26, at PBMR’s annual gala at Chez (247 E. Ontario, Chicago) from 6:00PM–9:00PM.
Begun in 2012, CRIIC is a community-based support group for those who have loved ones serving life without parole or extreme sentences imposed on them before their 18th birthday. The group is organized by Julie Anderson, whose son was sentenced to life in prison in 1995 at the age of 15. Through monthly meetings, CRIIC keeps track of current legislative efforts and litigation as well as offers support and encouragement. In a world where families with incarcerated loved ones often feel ashamed, guilty, and judged, the CRIIC monthly meetings provide members with a forum to share and offer each other comfort.
CRIIC has organized nearly a half dozen trips to Menard Correctional Center in southern Illinois, approximately 370 miles from Chicago. Anderson notes that it is often difficult for families to make a visit on their own and she recalls that on one of the first trips, a grandmother went along to see her grandson whom she had not seen in eight years. “Menard is a maximum security prison and there are not many happy moments when someone you love is locked up,” Anderson said. “The visits bring an air of happiness to family and to those incarcerated.”
CRIIC is also involved in Criminal Justice Reform, focusing on conditions of confinement and bringing back second chances for children in Illinois, which would allow those sentenced before their 21st birthday to a review after serving 20 years. Illinois currently does not have any type of review. CRIIC is also working with Illinois State Representative Justin Slaughter (D-27th District) to develop a Prison Family Bill of Rights that would give family members the right to in-person visits with their loved ones, which is currently subject to the discretion of the prison’s warden.
“Through Julie Anderson’s indefatigable leadership, CRIIC offers radical hospitality and accompaniment for families with incarcerated loved ones,” said Father David Kelly, PBMR executive director and a Missionary of the Precious Blood, a Roman Catholic religious congregation.
For more information on the Kinship Award or to purchase tickets to PBMR’s annual gala on April 26, visit www.pbmr.org or contact Sister Donna Liette at 773-653-5467. First given out in 2014, previous recipients of the Kinship Award include Sheil Catholic Center (Evanston), Home Depot (4555 S. Western Blvd., Chicago), Anthony Suarez-Abraham (director of the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Office of Peace and Justice), and St. John of the Cross Parish (Western Springs).