Gov’t Watch: Lack of pre-trial release program halts progress at county jails

By Klaudia Dukala/For CU-CitizenAccess.org — When consultant Alan Kalmanoff was conducting his assessment on the Champaign County jails, he noticed inmates with mental health problems were “decomposing” because of the lack of medications available to them. Now, Kalmanoff, executive director of the Institute for Law & Policy Planning, based in Berkeley, Calif., said first steps have been taken to combat the problem. Kalmanoff, a consultant hired by Champaign County to assess the county’s criminal justice system, presented a 272-page report to County Board members in September 2013. In his report, Kalmanoff criticized the county for its treatment of mental health inmates at both the downtown jail, at 204 E. Main St., and the satellite jail, at 502 S. Lierman Ave., in Urbana. The report stated the jails didn’t have the proper “… resources to house, and sometimes segregate, [the mental health] population as necessary to provide for their care.”

Two decades of meth use

Michael Pasley first used meth in his early teens.

Two decades later, his use came to a quick end when he was arrested April 5, 2010, in Mattoon, Ill. The arrest came after he spent 22 straight days high on meth.

Weekly RoundUp: Syria

Discussion on Capitol Hill over whether the U.S. should take military action to punish Syria for allegedly using chemical weapons against its own people is heating up, and Illinois lawmakers are weighing their decisions. On one side of the coin, many worry about war fatigue and fear of triggering greater conflicts in the Middle East. On the other, fear that a failure to take action against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime will “embolden war criminals, dictators and despots for years to come.”

According to a Washington Times article, President Obama spoke to a crowd in Stockholm, Sweden. “"I do think we have to act. Because if we don’t, we are effectively saying that even though we may condemn it and issue resolutions and so forth and so on, somebody who is not shamed by resolutions can continue to act with impunity and those international norms begin to erode and other despots and authoritarian regimes can start looking and saying, ‘That’s something we can get away with,’ ” Mr. Obama said.”

But the decision is not so clear for members of the Illinois delegation.

Weekly RoundUp: 50th Anniversary of March on Washington

This week marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I have a dream” speech. To commemorate the event, tens of thousands of people have returned to the National Mall this week, remembering this pivotal point in history and refocusing efforts on the future. According to The Huffington Post, Eric Holder, the nation’s first black attorney general, told a crowd that if not for the march 50 years ago, he would not be in office, nor would Barack Obama be president. “They marched in spite of animosity, oppression and brutality because they believed in the greatness of what this nation could become and despaired of the founding promises not kept,” Holder said. The article also quoted Martin Luther King III, the oldest son of the slain civil rights leader, at a weekend rally.

Weekly RoundUp: Concealed-Carry

This week Illinois passed a law that gives a concealed-carry permit to anyone who has passed a background check, taken a 16-hour gun-safety training course and owns a Firearm Owner’s Identification card. The permit costs $150. According to a news report from Illinois Public Media, all lawmakers from east central Illinois backed the override of Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn’s veto of the concealed-carry legislation. Illinois is the last state in the nation to pass a concealed-carry law, and, as the roundup of articles below shows, its passage did not come without controversy. Illinois enacts nation’s final concealed-gun law – The State Journal-Register

“Illinois joined the rest of the nation Tuesday by authorizing its residents to carry concealed weapons.

Weekly RoundUp: Defense of Marriage Act

This week the U.S. Supreme Court declared that the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, violated the Constitution. According to an article in the New York Times, the Supreme Court “went further than the federal government ever has in extending equal rights to same-sex couples. But it left untouched the thicket of conflicting state and local laws that deny gays and lesbians in the vast majority of states the benefits and legal recognition that marriage provides.”

Same sex couples do not receive the same rights at heterosexual couples in Illinois, and this week’s ruling once again puts the issue in the spotlight. Below is a roundup of recent news coverage.  

No clear direction on gay marriage in Illinois after court ruling – The News-Gazette

“It’s unclear whether Wednesday’s major victories in the U.S. Supreme Court will bolster the cause of gay marriage in the Illinois House of Representatives.