Sunday, October 12, 2008

Eviction Moratorium in Cook County Illinois

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart took an interesting position this week, announcing that his department would no longer enforce evictions for properties in foreclosure. This includes single homes, apartments and condominiums in Chicago and the near suburbs. While it appears that the decision was influenced by some issues with evictions in the Albany Park neighborhood that were brought to his attention, none the less, Dart appears to have focused on community distress rather than business interests.

I have to admit I'm a bit torn. Is this what it seems to be on the surface, or is it another calculated political move? I hate to be so cynical, but Chicago politics being what the are, cynicism is as much a self-defense mechanism as anti-bodies in the blood stream.

For now, I'm going to give Sheriff Dart the benefit of the doubt, primarily because he was reacting to a real problem brought to him by the Albany Park Community Council. My real test for his department is how they will react when the bankers challenge his decision in courts. Will he put up a spirited defense of his actions, or will he "let it go", and simply use this in a future political race as evidence of his support of the people.

What do you think?


Monday, October 6, 2008

Thoughts from the Faith Summit for Criminal Justice Reform

The Community Renewal Society, a Chicago based social justice organization hosted a Faith Summit October 5th, 2008. This short, but sweet meeting provided an opportunity for those interested in social justice issues to discuss and collaborate, and importantly provided encouragement . . . encouragement in our mission, in our causes and in the rightness of our efforts. This was an ecumenical perspective with many faiths represented on the formal agenda and prayers offered from Christian, Muslim and Jewish leaders. This was an informative and spirit filled event.

Covering subjects from dealing with Long-Term Prisoner issues, Victims issues, the need to move to Restorative Justice, and Alternatives to Incarceration, to Grandparents Rights and Barriers to Reentry, this was an opportunity to broaden our perspectives.

For me, I have been wrestling with an inmate's desire to set up a reconciliation event for perpetrators and victims at one of the prisons in Illinois. Honestly I have had a hard time trying to figure out an approach that would get the support needed by the prison warden. I was blessed to meet Rev. Robert Spicer at the Summit, a Pastor and Restorative Justice Trainer, actively involved in the Community Justice for Youth Initiative. Our initial discussions were extremely positive and we will be working together to make the reconciliation event a reality. I will be reporting progress as we work to move this forward.

For everyone in attendance this was an opportunity for people of faith to gather the information needed to begin to address a broad range of justice issues. From what I could tell it was a wonderful success.

One important form of support available to anyone reading this blog is to become a signatory on the Statement of People of Faith on the Transformation of the Illinois Criminal Justice System. Please, if you believe, as I do, that true justice will never exist in Illinois (or the broader USA) without proactive involvement of our faith based institutions and concerned citizens, take the step and sign on by clicking here: Statement of People of Faith.

The statement begins as follows: "As people of faith, we are committed to the transformation of the causes and impact of crime in our communities and the transformation of our criminal justice system. The reality of the United States system of criminal justice often stands in stark contrast to the shared and deeply held values of our diverse religious traditions and our shared civic traditions of democracy."

Until next time, God bless you.


Friday, October 3, 2008


Hello and good day!

My name is Daryle Brown and while I've started a couple of blogs, I have yet to be faithful to them, failing to update them on anything resembling a regular basis. I think that is because I was being too broad in defining them. I was trying to address too much. While I have opinions on many topics, I am most passionate about justice. Therefore this blog will focus entirely on issues of justice, fairness, and lapses, as I see them, in our societies approaches to a level playing field for all.

A bit of background: I've been accused of being an activist by my friends for over 25 years. While I first joined an Optimist Club soon after college, it was really to provide an opportunity for me to gain experience in public speaking. Well, for those of you that understand God's way with us, He will place you in places and situations that are for reasons you may not realize, to do things you were not expecting. In my case becoming a member of the Optimist Club of Renaissance Detroit was the beginning of 25 years of service to my community. From there my work expanded to Junior Achievement of Southeast Michigan as a volunteer teaching business principles to high schoolers, the founding of the Africare Detroit chapter of Africare, an "on the ground" development organizations focused on providing real solutions to those in need on the continent f Africa, and over the years a host of other community service projects.

My family moved to Chicago (Oak Park actually) in 1997, and soon joined the Trinity United Church of Church. Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. was a pastor that we had become familiar with as a frequent visitor to our church in Detroit, Hartford Memorial Baptist Church. He was (is) a good friend of Rev. Dr. Charles G. Adams, who baptised me, and our children, and married my wife and I.

Trinity is important to this introduction because it was there that my community service inclination led me to join the Prison Ministry. My involvement with prison ministry focused my attention on the cause of justice. For the last 8 years I have visited many prisons and jails in Illinois, and Wisconsin. Our ministry writes to over 150 inmates across America, and we have developed a variety of programs to both try to keep our youth from getting caught up in the justice system, and programs to assist newly released prisoners start a new life.

While most see this population as the discards of society, I have seen the potential they represent. Of course many folks in prison deserve to be there, but a vast number would never see the inside of a prison if not for a society that believes in punishment far more than rehabilitation.

My goal with this blog is to raise awareness of the issues with our law, and the application of it, as our communities are deprived of vitality and hope. Instead we are greeted with despair and hopelessness. I am looking for open dialog that will form consensus toward humanitarian reform of our criminal justice system.

In closing, I would like to encourage allies and opponents alike to contribute their ideas and passion to the commentaries that will be forthcoming.