Chicago Community Jail Support is a daily, on the ground, grassroots mutual aid project run completely by volunteers. Our mission is to assist anyone being released from Cook County Jail, their loved ones, and the surrounding community. We focus on providing direct aid that meets the immediate needs of those being released with phone calls, warm clothing, snacks, drinks, PPE, safe transportation home, and emergency housing.
We are present outside the jail at the corner of 27th Street and California Blvd every day from 5 PM to 10 PM (we extend to 11 PM on weekends).
Most people are released from Cook County Jail with essentially nothing but the clothes they were arrested in. What would you do if you found yourself on the street without a phone, money, or any of your belongings? How would you get home? How would you contact a loved one? Cook County Jail is legally bound to provide bus cards and phone calls to those being released, but all too often, those basic allowances are not made. These discrepancies can be more than inconvenient and demeaning, they can be dangerous. That's where we come in.
Chicago Community Jail Support began following the mass arrests during the protests in the name of George Floyd (and all those harmed by police brutality and incarceration) on May 30th, 2020.
The practice of jail support has long been a tool to show solidarity for those arrested at protests, to demand their release, and to aid those arrested after they are let out. While our volunteers were initially present for those participating in the protests, we quickly realized the conditions in Cook County Jail required us to extend our stay and assist anyone being released, not just protesters.
We've returned every single day since that first day and we intend to be a permanent fixture outside of Cook County Jail.
We believe no one should be exposed to the conditions inside Cook County Jail and that incarceration is not the solution to a healthier, safer Chicago.
We are a group of volunteers who want to abolish police, jails, and prisons.
We understand mutual aid as community survival pending revolution, which means we work to help those leaving Cook County Jail and their loved ones with their immediate needs.
This includes free phone calls, transportation, food, water, first aid, warm clothing, and housing whenever possible.
This care is critical, as so many are released from jail having had little to no food or water and have none of their property on them (no cash, no credit cards, no cell phones) because their property is stored at the police station they were booked into.
Cook County Jail also was for a time a leading hot spot for COVID-19 infections resulting in a number of deaths, proving the point made over and over by abolitionists that jails and prisons are a public health crisis.
As abolitionists we know that many of the services typically offered as solutions to social, political, and economic problems do not actually prevent or reduce violence and harm, but rather, they can serve to further surveil and criminalize Black and Brown people, and poverty in general.
This is why we work to provide resources and care outside of a non-profit or welfare framework.
Our mutual aid work outside Cook County Jail aims to make the police and the capitalist-imperialist state less and less relevant to people’s everyday lives, and puts into action the principle that we keep us safe.
Everyone has needs and everyone has contributions; mutual aid seeks to move beyond “charity” as wealthy tax breaks and beyond mere redistribution that does not disrupt the dynamics that created massive wealth inequality in the first place.
Chicago Community Jail Support supports Black, Brown, and Indigenous self-determination, and we know that will never be achieved as long as Chicago Police Department and Cook County Jail exist.
We organize and operate within Chicago’s Little Village community, and we honor the history and contributions of Native peoples from whom this land was stolen. We acknowledge that Little Village rests upon land that was stolen from Indigenous people, including the Kiikaapoi, Peoria, Kaskaskia, Bodéwadmiakiwen, Ojibwe, Odawa, Myaamia, Ho-Chunk, Sac, Mascouten, Meskwaki, Menominee, Wea, Thakiwaki, and Očhéthi Šakówin nations.
We recognize a legacy of broken treaties and covenants and the need to strive to make right with all our relations.
- We are abolitionists, drawing from the knowledge and experiences of generations of Black organizers, and we acknowledge that we did not create mutual aid or jail support work.
- We do not collaborate, collude with, or otherwise support law enforcement in any form.
- We understand that jail support is a temporary intervention aiming to reduce harm created by Cook County Jail and the entire carceral system. We believe it is crucial to abolish the prison-industrial complex along with all forms of policing.
- We know that Cook County Jail, the prison-industrial complex, and law enforcement do not keep individuals or communities safe.
- We believe mutual aid to be inherently collaborative, relationship-based, and community-oriented.
- We believe in Black, Brown, and Indigenous self-determination.
- We believe in fostering a culture of learning, growth, accountability, personal boundaries, & transformative and healing justice.
- We commit to being mindful of power structures and centering marginalized voices as we navigate our interactions