Welcome to the Lit Issue

This year’s Literary Issue is centered around radical writing, transformative legislation, community, and self care as an act of resistance. In the featured book reviews, writers explore the complexities of Black art, the grief that comes with rest, and timeless abolitionist writing. This includes a community review of We Do This Til We Free Us by Mariame Kaba, as well as a Q&A with co-author Kelly Hayes on their latest book, Let This Radicalize You. An expanded version of The Exchange, The Weekly’s poetry corner, features poems in response to this issue’s central prompt; how do you practice and experience radical self-love, revolutionary thought (or action), or the reclamation of freedom and community? With the help of the South Side Weekly team and contributors, this special issue was curated by Chima Ikoro, the Weekly’s Community Builder. 

First state to eliminate cash bail

The Illinois Supreme Court ruled in favor of eliminating the state’s cash bail system. In a 5-2 ruling on July 18, the court overturned an Illinois judge’s ruling from December which held that a new law ending cash bail in the state was unconstitutional. Around the U.S., about two-thirds of people held in jail have not been convicted of a crime. Many wait weeks, months, or even years for their trial simply because they can’t afford bail. That’s because the system of cash bail has historically allowed income to be the determining factor in whether someone is forced to stay in jail before their trial, effectively criminalizing poverty.

In February 2021, Illinois was the first state to completely eliminate this system when Governor J.B. Pritzker signed the Illinois Pre-Trial Fairness Act. This was part of the larger Safety, Accountability, Fairness, and Equity-Today Act (SAFE-T Act), a sweeping criminal justice reform package introduced by the Illinois Black Caucus. Largely in response to disinformation being spread about the law, Pritzker signed a series of amendments and clarifications to the SAFE-T Act in December 2022.

Originally set to take effect in January, the new system will go into effect September 18. Under this law, judges across Illinois will not require people charged with a crime—other than those considered to be a threat to the public or likely to flee—to post bail in order to leave jail prior to their trial.

Howard Brown Health ruling by NLRB

Howard Brown Health, a LGBTQ+ healthcare organization, was found guilty by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) of unfair labor practices and union busting. Just this past August, employees at Howard Brown Health unionized under Howard Brown Health Workers United, an affiliate of the Illinois Nurses Association (INA). Since then, mass layoffs of more than sixty employees occurred during contract negotiations. This led to around 440 workers striking for three days in January.

Of the sixteen filed complaints by INA against Howard Brown to the NLRB, eight have been found to have merit while the rest of the accusations are still under investigation. NLRB found Howard Brown to be bargaining in bad faith, refusing to negotiate during layoffs, and surveilling union meetings. NLRB is trying to reach a settlement with Howard Brown. If a settlement is not reached, a hearing will determine remedies for workers impacted by the unfair labor practices.

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