On April 7, Illinois Institute President Jim Chapman was a guest on the Cliff Kelley Show on WVON 1690AM, a live, three-hour, discussion/call-in program that Kelley hosts five days a week. The station’s reach covers the Chicagoland area and extends to nearby cities such as Aurora, 30 miles northwest of the city.

Chapman discussed in detail the nature of the Changing Minds Campaign, contending that the Illinois prison system has failed. Our prisons as they now exist are not capable of fulfilling their intended purpose, he said. The term “corrections” in this context has become a glaring malapropos. On the contrary, according to Chapman, conditions in our prisons work against those who wish to transform themselves into law-abiding members of free society when they are released.

Further, Chapman continued, we have erected daunting barriers that virtually prevent ex-prisoners from succeeding upon their release by restricting their opportunities and making it extremely difficult to earn an honest living.

Chapman explained the need for prisoners, ex-prisoners, their families and friends to organize and come together to demand change, which is especially vital in the face of opposition by many well-organized forces. Among those he identified were the corrections officers’ unions, state’s attorneys, chambers of commerce, so-called “victims’ rights” groups and many conservative elected officials.

The host extended Chapman’s time on the show from 30 minutes to an hour because of the high volume of calls, and there were still callers waiting at the hour’s end. Kelley is now considering a regular time slot on the show for Chapman’s future visits.