Etgar 36

Day 23-Chicago-by Sam Rogers

The day started off at 8 at the Holiday Inn. After a nice breakfast bar at the Hawaiian themed hotel we got on the road.

Our first stop was at Northwestern Law University. There we met with a non profit group called John Howard Association to speak to us about prison reform.  One of our speakers was an ex-convict from a Chicago prison. He used his experience in prison to judge whether prisoners were being treated fairly and humanely or not. He also personally reads through every appeal and letter sent to the organization by inmates and their parents, and he replies to them as well.

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Our other speaker was a former lawyer that represented the organization’s legal side that fights prisons and unfair treatment of prisoners. They spoke to us about the prison system and gave us shocking statistics based off Illinois prisons. We were told about how healthcare for prisoners is much worse than it seems. Inmates only receive medical attention if they are visibly or critically injured. We also learned about the overcrowding issue in correctional facilities and how many of them don’t have any type of program for prisoners, allowing them only to sit in their cells for over twenty hours a day. Because of no initiation to actually reform prisoners, many turn out worse after their sentence and over 47% of released prisoners wind up incarcerated again within three years.

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After a hearty debate on prison reform we traversed to Michigan avenue for some lunch and free time.

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Our next stop was City Hall. At City Hall we spoke with Michael Negron, the mayor’s chief of policy, on the topic of raising minimum wage. Michael argued for raising the minimum wage and how it would only marginally increase a business’ expenses over four years. With a thorough set of charts, Michael showed us that while inflation has risen in the country, minimum wage has not. Accounting for inflation, Michael explained that he would like to see minimum wage reach $13 an hour in four years. It was interesting to meet with someone in such a high position and to be able to question them.

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After City Hall we went to our last stop of the day, Grant Park. We visited the infamous bean there, a giant reflective bean-like structure in the middle of the park. After the bean, we visited a statue on a hill in Grant park. As it turned out, this statue was the site of the Democratic Convention Riot in 1968. Billy spoke about the events that led to the riots that happened during the political convention. We learned of how the young once again tried to influence their world and their struggle to do it.

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After a relaxing stay at the park we headed to dinner at Cracker Barrel and then hit the open road to Cleveland.