More than 2.3 million people are held in American prisons at any given time. Nearly 400,000 immigrants are deported each year. They represent the highest rates of incarceration and deportation in American history.
The nation’s punitive approach to safety and security is ineffective and counter-productive, says Elena Quintana, Ph.D., Executive Director of The Adler School of Professional Psychology’s Institute on Public Safety and Social Justice (IPSSJ), which studies mass detention and deportation policies, and the enormous cost to communities, families and taxpayers.
It is time, Quintana says, to implement new and innovative approaches to incarceration and immigration policy.
Quintana was among the rights advocates and speakers at Forced Out: A Unity Forum at the Crossroads of Deportation & Incarceration, convened April 5 at the University of Illinois in Chicago (UIC) by the Adler School IPSSJ and the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) in partnership with the UIC Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy and more than 50 other organizations.
The first-of-its-kind event drew more than 500 advocates, community leaders, and individuals and families affected by current incarceration and immigration policy. During the forum, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia emphasized the need to explore alternative approaches to immigration and incarceration enforcement.
In addition to Quintana, Preckwinkle and Garcia, forum speakers included Adler School President Raymond E. Crossman, Ph.D., and Lynn Todman, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Adler School’s Institute on Social Exclusion (ISE). Crossman, Todman and Quintana launched the forum with a historical overview of immigration and incarceration policies and impact.
“The Adler School is committed to the health and well being of our communities; our commitment is realized through our innovative curricula and programs, our social justice centers, and our faculty and student work such as our Community Service Practicum which connects hundreds of our students to service learning opportunities,” Crossman told attendees.
“We recognize that policies of mass detention are a major threat to the health and well-being of our communities. We need healing connections rather than the systemic separation of families and loved ones. When more resources are invested into locking up urban communities rather than lifting them up, then there is a major problem with our priorities.
“We are pleased to be working with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, and all the leaders and groups in this room on carving out a brighter, more just, and more humane future.”
Also speaking out were undocumented immigrants and former prison inmates, testifying to the systems’ firsthand effects on individuals and families.
Participating organizations presented workshops on “The Criminalization of Youth: How young people are marginalized and detained,” “Mental Health Impacts: How families are separated through detainment,” and “Construction of Illegality: How marginalized groups are made to be illegal.”
The day also featured an art exhibition and performance by members of Young Chicago Authors. It concluded with a call for Illinois legislators to address immigration and incarceration issues, and a moment of silence to reflect on the day and commit to working toward change.
“The forum provided a unique opportunity for members of diverse organizations to connect, contribute to the conversation and collaborate on future action,” Quintana said.
Event partner organizations included:
Fighting to Overcome Records and Create Equality (FORCE), Fearless Leading by the Youth (FLY), Project Nia, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Arise Chicago, Southwest Organizing Project, Enlace Chicago, UIC Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy, Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, Rafael Cintron-Ortiz Latino Cultural Center, NALAAC, JCUA, Community Renewal Society, St. Agatha Catholic Church, Chicago New Sanctuary Coalition, Office for Peace and Justice, Office for Immigrant Affairs and Education at the Archdiocese of Chicago, Center of Change, Casa Michoacan, Albany Park Theater Project, Transformative Justice Law Project, Mansfield Institute for Social Justice and Transformation, Arab American Action Network, UIC African-American Cultural Center, Free Write Jail Arts and Literacy Program, Institute on Public Safety and Social Justice at the Adler School of Professional Psychology, National Immigrant Justice Center, Tamms Year Ten Campaign, UIUC Labor Education Program, Interfaith Leadership Project, Mexican-American Coalition, Depaul Urban Egan Center, Warehouse Workers for Justice, Aurora University, Waubonsee University, NEIU – Justice Studies Department, Rogers Park Community Council, Independent Voters of Illinois, Latino Studies at Northwestern University, Latinos in Skokie, UCCIR, Human Rights Department at the University of Chicago, SEIU Local 73, United African Organization, Alternatives Education Institute, American Friends Service Committee, Teachers for Social Justice, Chicago Workers Collaborative, the Northern Illinois Conference of the United Methodist Church, CeaseFire and the 8th Day Center for Justice.
About the Adler School’s Institute on Public Safety and Social Justice
The IPSSJ works to meet public safety challenges—such as those related to juvenile justice, adult corrections, violence prevention, and reentry into society after incarceration—with socially just solutions. It does so through supporting public safety systems that address trauma rather than recreating it, through supporting cultural shifts away from punishment and towards accountability, and through helping organizations develop safety strategies that promote functionality and wellness.
Among its programs are its Violence Prevention Seminar Series, and a Volunteer Visitors’ Program for detained juveniles, and curriculum for providing mental health training for corrections officers in Cook County, Illinois—in the state that has led the nation in prison population growth. The programs are intended to impact individual lives and systems, as models of public safety and social justice for detention facilities and communities around the country and world. For more information, visit adler.edu/IPSSJ.
About the Adler School of Professional Psychology
The Adler School of Professional Psychology has provided quality education through a scholar/practitioner model for more than 50 years. The School’s mission is to train socially responsible graduates who continue the visionary work of Alfred Adler throughout the world. The Adler School offers 13 graduate-level programs enrolling more than 1,000 students at its campuses in Chicago and Vancouver, British Columbia, and through Adler Online.
Kim McCullough, Director of Communications
(312) 662-4124 or via email