With Cook County Board President Tony Prequinkle and the way the board is being paid for services with severely depleted funds, a group of activists say they know a good place to start: Cook County Slash funding for prison.
Groups like Black Lives Matter Chicago and several South Side clergy want a $ 157 million cut from Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart’s budget. But they want the majority of the money to go towards health services and housing in the city’s poorest communities.
“We need a budget that shows that we’re not really trying to overcome all our problems,” said Amika Tendaji, an activist at Black Lives Matter Chicago, who spoke to reporters in front of the Strowger Hospital on Wednesday Of.
About $ 47 million – the largest portion of the proposed “budget for Black Lives” – will go to increase the rental assistance subsidy already provided by the Housing Authority of Cook County. Another $ 39.7 million will be added to the county’s health system budget to compensate for $ 55 million in proposed cuts, activists say. About $ 10.5 million will fund restorative justice and violence prevention programs.
“We have two options: either we believe that black people need public health, mental health, resources that communities need, or you believe that black people are inherently criminals and jailed them And that’s how we’re solving our problems, “Tendaji said.” And in that case, you’re on the wrong side of history, and when we win, we’ll make sure that people know that you Are on the wrong side of history. “
Dart’s office issued a statement on Wednesday, stating, among other things, that he “has long been at the forefront of attempting to end unnecessary and unjust incest.”
“We will continue to expand our investment into innovative, thoughtful options that provide assistance to our most vulnerable citizens,” the statement said.
Prequinkle said the county is facing the largest budget gap in nearly a decade due to a fall from COVID-19 in June. He said “everything is on the table.” Officials said the county could see a budget difference of $ 409 million in the 2021 fiscal year.
In July, the county board approved the proposal for Justice for Black Lives stating that the county should arrest people and redirect them money to housing, health care and job creation “specifically violence and In Black and Brown Communities Affected by Harassment. “
Some activists said that the time had come to get out of jail completely. “There is punitive slavery in our prison system,” said Frank Chapman, executive director of the National Alliance Against Racist Representation.
“That prison should be closed because it is an insult to our humanity,” Chapman said. “This is a death trap for COVID-19 infection right now.”