Past Event

"A Day at Stateville" Reading and Intergenerational Conversation

A Day at Stateville is a short play detailing a newcomer’s first day at Stateville Correctional Facility in Joliet, Illinois. Conceived and written by men who participate in the prison’s "Life Transformation Through Communication" course and who are all doing natural life without parole, the play seeks to inspire community members to take action in reducing the number of at-risk youth from entering prisons, while also advocating for improving the daily conditions prisoners face.

Join us for a special reading of A Day at Stateville, followed by an intergenerational conversation focusing on the needs of the youth and community to interrupt the schools to prison pipeline, take steps towards creating street peace, and to re-think safety and de-criminalize our communities. The reading will feature formerly incarcerated men Danny Franklin and Henry Robertson; Alexandrea Navedo and Elijah Salaam, Youth Leaders at Southwest Organizing Project and Outreach Workers at Safety Net Works; and will be narrated by Cynthia Rush from Cluster of Rozes. The post-reading conversation will be moderated by Alice Kim, Director of The Public Square.  

More about partner organizations

"Life Transformation Through Communication," is a course at Stateville Correctional Center in Joliet, Illinois taught by Jim Chapman, President of the Illinois Institute for Community Law and Affairs, who teaches the class as a certified volunteer every Wednesday to 25 men doing natural life without parole. Class participants learn how to communicate orally and in writing to inspire others to support their causes which include reducing excessive sentences, bringing additional programs to the prison, improving conditions at maximum security prisons, and encouraging youth at risk and community members to interrupt the school-to prison pipeline.

Illinois Institute for Community Law and Affairs is a not-for-profit corporation that develops and implements policy and programs which deal with issues that impact men and women in prison and upon their return to their communities.  It is the Institute’s goal to enhance their opportunity for successful reentry.

The Southwest Community Coalition (SCC) is an initiative funded by The Safety Net Works of the State of Illinois. The SCC is comprised of 14 coalition members from the Chicago Lawn and Gage Park area on the southwest side of Chicago. The Safety Net Works is a direct service response initiative that encompasses a preventive and rehabilitative approach to addressing youth violence in Illinois. The Southwest Community Coalition works to coordinate services for the community’s children, youth, and their families. Each organization has substantial experience facilitating programs, services, and campaigns together. SCC combines public and community resources to help young people avoid acts of crime and violence to which they are so vulnerable.

The Children and Family Justice Center (CFJC) is a comprehensive children’s law center where law students, under the supervision of attorneys and clinical professors, represent young people on matters of delinquency and crime, family violence, school discipline, health and disability, and immigration and asylum. CFJC collaborates with communities and child welfare, educational, mental health, and juvenile justice systems to develop fair and effective policies and solutions for reform.

More about our panelists

Danny Franklin is a formerly incarcerated man who served time at Stateville and now conducts the Reaching Back Ministry with his wife Jo Ann to help men and women coming from prison.

Alexandrea Navedo is a Youth Leader at Southwest Organizing Project and Outreach Worker at Safety Net Works.

Henry Robertson is a formerly incarcerated man who served time in Illinois Maximum Security Prisons and now helps youth at risk on Chicago’s South Side.

Cynthia Rush is a formerly incarcerated woman who works with Cluster of Rozes, a group of formerly incarcerated women who have dedicated their efforts to the memory of one member who was recently killed.

Elijah Salaam is a Youth Leader at Southwest Organizing Project and Outreach Worker at Safety Net Works.

This event is presented in partnership by The Southwest Community Coalition, the "Life Transformation through Communication" course at Stateville Correctional Facility, the Illinois Institute for Community Law and Affairs, the Children and Family Justice Center at Northwestern University, and The Public Square.

This event is part of The Public Square’s "Looking for Democracy" series, made possible in part by the Woods Fund of Chicago.


This event is free and open to the public. For more information, please call 312.422.5580.