a chicago community jail support tent set up outside Cook County Jail in Chicago during the winter
Chicago Community Jail Support sets up a tent for some of their activities outside of the prison. Credit: Kerry Cardoza

Chicago Community Jail Support is one of many vital mutual-aid groups that sprung up following the 2020 murder of George Floyd, as local protests against racism and police brutality resulted in mass arrests of demonstrators. The all-volunteer effort aims to support anyone being released from Cook County Jail, the majority of whom are discharged with little more than the clothes on their backs, regardless of weather conditions. While the group’s website says that the jail is supposed to “provide bus cards and phone calls to those being released,” they note that often doesn’t happen. In response, CCJS volunteers set up outside the jail every evening, at the corner of 27th Street and California Blvd, and offer snacks, drinks, phone calls, and safe rides home to newly released individuals.

Credit: Kerry Cardoza

There are myriad ways to get involved with Chicago Community Jail Support or their support mission. You can donate your time or set up recurring donations, which help purchase things like cab fare, Gatorade, and items off their Target registry. There are numerous opportunities to volunteer on the ground (training is provided) or lend a hand from home, such as fundraising or organizing supply drives. The folks behind CCJS believe that “incarceration is not the solution to a healthier, safer Chicago,” but while it remains a reality, they are determined to demonstrate tangible, life-affirming solidarity.

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