Program Overview

Envisioning Justice leverages the arts and humanities to envision alternatives to the enduring injustice of mass incarceration. This Illinois Humanities initiative works with communities and people impacted by mass incarceration to spark conversation and illuminate community-based strategies that address our racist and unjust criminal legal system.

From 2017 to 2019, Envisioning Justice was concentrated in Chicago. Moving forward, Illinois Humanities is expanding this initiative and its attendant activities throughout the state. As a part of this next phase of Envisioning Justice, we will host and document community conversations, provide grant opportunities, and commission projects by artists and humanists working to shift the narrative around incarceration and system impacted communities.

Illinois Humanities acknowledges that people and communities affected by the criminal legal system are driving this movement for change, and we are committed to supporting their efforts to bring public awareness to issues of systemic racism and injustice inherent in mass incarceration through arts and humanities programming. We also seek to strengthen the networks, organizations, and resources they need to continue making a difference.

For more information, please contact us at You can also receive bi-weekly updates by signing up for our Envisioning Justice digest.

Visions of Justice

Illinois state capital building with text reading, Visions of Justice is an eight-part video and event series, launching Sept. 24, created in partnership with VAM STUDIO that brings together the perspectives of more than 30 Illinoisans spread over seven towns and cities to examine the far-reaching impacts of mass incarceration in our local communities. Join us this fall for eight virtual screenings and panel discussions to hear from an exciting array of Illinois artists, organizers, scholars, local residents, and others working to interrogate the foundation of the criminal legal system and advance justice where they live.

Attend a screening

Statewide Grants

Grantmaking is a critical component of Envisioning Justice. Through the Envisioning Justice grants program, Illinois Humanities partners with groups throughout the state to use the arts and humanities to spark statewide conversations about the impact of mass incarceration as well as envision community- based solutions.

Learn more and apply

Artist & Humanist Commissions

The Envisioning Justice Artist & Humanist Commissions will support Illinois artists and humanists in creating new work that responds to the impacts of mass incarceration and helps envision and devise strategies for a truly just society.

Commissioned artists and humanists will also create “instructional prompts” based on this new work for an Envisioning Justice Activation Kit that will promote reflection, conversation, and action from viewers and participants.

Learn more about the commissioned projects

Public Programming

Illinois Humanities continues to develop public programming that includes our ongoing Rapid Response Series, film screenings, and other activities that can be used to advance the conversation and bring people together to collectively imagine alternatives.

The Envisioning Justice Rapid Response Series was created by Illinois Humanities to share short, original videos featuring perspectives and reflections from humanists, artists, and community organizers working in system-impacted communities during this complex time.

You can watch past Rapid Response programs on the Illinois Humanities YouTube channel.

Envisioning Justice Digest

The Envisioning Justice Digest is a bi-weekly newsletter that features events, updates, resources, and relevant media within the movement of addressing and ending mass incarceration. Subscribe Now