Our Mission

Created and facilitated by Illinois Humanities, Envisioning Justice engages Chicagoans of all neighborhoods, races, socio-economic backgrounds, and with a diversity of perspectives, in a citywide conversation about the impact of incarceration in local communities and invites residents to use the arts and humanities to devise strategies for lessening this impact. Envisioning Justice seeks to strengthen efforts to reimagine our criminal legal system and is inspired by the goals of justice, accountability, safety, support, and restoration for all people.

Learn more about the Envisioning Justice Initiative from the Resource Guide.

Use the Envisioning Justice Curricular Concepts guide to develop innovative ways for involving students in creating a more just world in our schools, our communities, our nation, and beyond.

Our Approach

Envisioning Justice is built upon a two-pronged approach—combining ambitious programming to reach diverse audiences with sustained effort to build capacity among arts, humanities, and policy organizations. The overarching goals are to increase community engagement in incarceration reform, amplify the call for reform, and build the capacity to sustain engagement and create lasting reform.

Using the humanities, and especially art, we will catalyze conversations and new ideas through networks in five neighborhoods that are disproportionately impacted, Cook County Jail, and the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center to identify reform-based vocabulary, common goals, and new collaborations. These communities have been working to affect the issue and have ideas that would be useful in the shaping of policy, but ideas for reform typically come from the mainstream, leaving the voices of those most impacted by the issue out. By centering these communities, Envisioning Justice will strengthen the capacity of leaders and organizations in under-resourced communities, raise the visibility of their work, and build a strong citywide network.

To complement the arts education and community dialogues at the hubs, Envisioning Justice will offer:

  • Citywide Grants: for arts and humanities programs in jails and prisons, for communications efforts to better tell stories about policy and data, and for community-led discussions.
  • Multimedia journalism and documentation of Envisioning Justice activities.
  • A humanities education course for high school youth.
  • Final exhibition including six artist commissions, community artwork from the seven hubs, and other relevant works.