John Howard Association of Illinois

Founded in 1901, JHA is Illinois’ only non-partisan prison watchdog. Our mission is to achieve a fair, humane, and effective criminal justice system which we do by monitoring correctional facilities, practices and policies. Our work promotes adult and juvenile prison reform, leading to successful re-integration and enhanced community safety.

Through our longstanding Prison Monitoring Project and Juvenile Justice Project, JHA staff and trained volunteers regularly visit and monitor all facilities in the Illinois Department of Corrections and the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice. During these visits, monitors are able to observe the challenges faced by both inmates and correctional staff and ensure that practices and policies are implemented in a way that promotes public safety.

Following our visits, JHA issues a written report that focuses on critical matters such as education, medical and mental health care, disciplinary procedures for youth and adults, and the physical condition of the facilities. These widely disseminated reports are read by everyone from lawyers to legislators, wardens to reformers, members of the Governor’s office to members of the public at large; they provide essential transparency and oversight to an otherwise overlooked institution and drive safe and cost-effective criminal justice reform.

PILI Fellows can expect to help JHA program staff with visiting juvenile and adult facilities, writing policy reports, and researching criminal justice policy trends and best practices which will be influential in legislation, internal correctional policy changes, and executive branch decision making about corrections in Illinois.

This agency is approved to host Graduate Fellows.