Cook County Jail Then and Now: The Impact of Poverty and Racism


Hanke Gratteau

Join us March 13th, 2016 at 10 a.m. for the annual wreath tossing and symposium to commemorate Clarence Darrow, as we explore the role of poverty and racism on incarceration, and hear a reading of Darrow’s words on the subject.

This year, Hanke Gratteau, director of the Cook County Sheriff’s Justice Institute, describes today’s jail population and efforts underway to shift the paradigm. Many inmates in the jail are locked up because they cannot afford $5,000 bail, because they committed crimes of survival, because they are mentally ill.  Under Gratteau’s leadership, the Institute works for enlightened policies and practices regarding incarceration and home evictions.

In 1902, in a talk to inmates in the Cook County Jail, Darrow explained, “If every man and woman and child in the world had a chance to make a decent, fair, honest living, there would be no jails….”  This year’s event includes actress and producer Fawzia Mirza reading Darrow’s words from his 1902 address.

Gratteau is a former award-winning journalist, including the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Journalism. She also served as Executive Director of the John Howard Association, a corrections watchdog group, and Vice-President for Public Affairs at Ounce of Prevention.  Mirza is an actress and producer, for stage, TV, and film, who describes her goal in her work:  to use performance, personal storytelling and comedy to break down stereotypes across a multiplicity of identities: race, religion, sexual orientation and gender and defy the concept of the ‘model minority’ often portrayed in the mainstream.”


Fawzia Mirza

Details:  Join us at 10 a.m. just EAST of the Clarence Darrow Bridge in Jackson Park (the bridge is under construction) for the traditional tossing of flowers and brief speeches to commemorate Darrow.  The Symposium begins at 10:45 a.m. in the Museum of Science and Industry: The Rosenwald Room (formerly the New Columbian Room). Beverages and rolls will be served. (The Darrow Bridge is behind the Museum of Science and Industry: Driving south on Lake Shore Drive, pass the light at 57th Drive and turn right at the next light [Science Drive]. You will come almost immediately to Columbia Drive. If you turn left and follow Columbia Drive there is metered parking near the bridge. Or you may park at meters near the OmniMax Theater and walk south to the bridge.)

Click here to download a one-page flier about our event (PDF file) – feel free to print and distribute!

Learn more about the Clarence Darrow Commemorative Committee.


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