Champaign County ACLU Steering Committee


Minutes of the meeting, Thursday, June 7, 2012


In attendance: Bill Brown, president, Faruq Nelson, Mark Leff, Bob Illyes, Esther Patt, Carol Spindel, Shirley Stillinger, Stuart Laird, Steve Portnoy, Diana Lenik, Richard Schnuer, Carol Leff


  1. Introductions
  2. Invited guest – James Kilgore, member of the Justice Task Force and a member of “Citizens with Conviction” which advocates for the rights of the formerly incarcerated.

We had an extensive discussion with James Kilgore of the issues surrounding the condition county jail and proposals for its renovation.

Some discussion focused on the process --the RFP needs assessment, the decision-making timetable, the need for a presence at the County Board meetings. James stressed the general need to assure public forums for discussion and the need to secure the engagement of all stakeholders in the process. Mark Leff and Shirley Stillinger agreed to attend the next board meeting on the issue and Shirley agreed to speak at that session. 

A final process question involved costs of construction and the prior county financing of the jail system that incurred debts as yet unpaid.


Some of the substantive issues raised:

      --The need to focus on alternatives to incarceration such as electronic home monitoring, citations rather than arrests for minor infractions, work release,

      --the genuine need for action on the deteriorating central facility

      --the question of gender equity in programming and facilities

      --the necessity of proper funding for non-incarceration social services like mental health, treatment for substance abuse and re-entry services (a particular problem for the incarcerated and for the sheriff’s staff).


Noted in the discussion

The Los Angeles County jail study conducted by the ACLU in 2011


The extended discussion of the important issues surrounding the jail meant that we were pretty efficient in the subsequent discussions.

  1. Approval of minutes of May meeting
  2. Treasurer’s update 
  3. Announcements & Communications

a)       Law School Chapter & Student Chapter reports (none received)

b)       Immigration forum update—Carol Leff missed the meeting, but will be attending the upcoming June meeting. Immigration Forum meets all summer.

c)        New UI police chief Jeff Christensen

d)       Marriage lawsuit--In late May, ACLU and Lambda Legal filed a law suit for marriage equality in Illinois. Three local couples are involved in the suit.

e)       Indefinite detention—the National Defense authorization passed in 2012 contains a congressional affirmation of the presidential power to indefinitely detain suspected terrorists—the ACLU has criticized the policy and the idea that the president has authority to detain people suspected of terrorism without limitation

As a counter-move Smith (D-Washington)-Amash (R-Michigan) Amendment was an attempt to ban indefinite detention for US citizens. A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction against the enforcement of indefinite detention provisions.



  1. Old Business

a)       Market at the square

June 30th first date, with two weekends in August

b)       Website redesign update

c)        July 4th parade—we finalized our decision to march in the parade and to send out information on the list serve.

Note: About a dozen ACLUers marched in the parade—a good number.  Several local members responded to the listserv invitation to join us. Thanks to Carol Inskeep for the signs. We were told to check in at 12:30, for the parade due to start at 1:05.  We were #72 and actually started marching at around two.  In the future we should have a representative to come by and check in on time, and estimate a later time for the larger group to gather.  90 minutes in the heat waiting for a 60 minute march is unnecessary.

d)       Polling places in churches

We discussed the complications of voting in church lobbies with their own policy material posted, but also the limited alternatives.  Esther had a list of some of the polling places.

e)       Quarterly social gathering—we discussed venues in downtown Champaign where there are numerous places to eat and drink attractive to younger members or those with civil liberties issues.

  1. New Business

a)       Goal for coming year – fall event(s), committee needed

Discussion of the value of seeking WILL sponsorship and other coverage (FOCUS 560) of a public forum to deal with the jail,

b)       Table at Champaign-Urbana Days at Douglass Park (mid –August)

  1. Adjournment at 8:35.

No meeting in July or August

Next meeting:  Sept 6th


Save the date:

Nov 17th – ACLU: ENGAGE