Stateville Speaks is a prison newsletter that is produced for and in part, by Illinois prisoners. It is available to any incarcerated individual that requests it (regardless of their inability to pay), as well as their family members, friends, advocates, activists and anyone affected by prison conditions. Additionally, it is provided to every Illinois state senator and state representative, as well as every Illinois Department of Corrections’ warden.
The purpose of the newsletter is to provide a creative outlet — a voice for the voiceless — for those incarcerated in Illinois, as well as to disseminate legislative and legal information. Specifically, the newsletter allows for prisoners to have a platform comprised of their essays, letters, artwork, as well as provide them critical information about legislation and policies. It also allows those that volunteer or contribute to the newsletter to gain a further understanding of the Illinois prison system and the resilience of those that reside within.
The goal for the newsletter is to publish and distribute it into the prisons four times a year, with an occasional additional special edition.
Stateville Speaks is currently housed in the Justice Studies Department at Northeastern Illinois University; however, our only source of funding is through subscriptions and donations.
While continuing to produce the newsletter on a dire budget is challenging, the alternative is unacceptable, as we are told oftentimes by some of our subscribers the newsletter is their only interaction outside of IDOC. Beyond being just a small prison newsletter, we hope it represents to our subscribers that they are not forgotten and to never give up hope. We also want them to know there are many individuals and organizations fighting for their wellbeing-for better living conditions, better medical care, better programs/ educational opportunities and most of all a chance for redemption.