About the Project
The Chasing Hearts project will curate and memorialize a thematically linked series of virtual, public, and pre-recorded speaking events, each of which will feature formerly incarcerated people who will talk about their experiences with Illinois’s criminal legal system. Each event will be captured digitally to be used as educational tools for audiences across the state.
Illinois Prison Project’s (IPP) Ambassadors program recognizes that its former clients are experts on the topics of incarceration, perpetual punishment, and the criminal legal system. While IPP knows that its clients carry a wealth of stories and insights, the Ambassadors program needs considerable work and stewardship to reach its true potential while prioritizing the health and dignity of the Ambassadors. In working towards this goal, it is critical that IPP offers the Ambassadors all the resources they need to be successful, both as public speakers and as free individuals.
About the Humanist
Renaldo Hudson is an educator and a community organizer, and has focused his work on ending perpetual punishment in Illinois. After being sentenced to death row, he worked for 37 years while incarcerated in the Illinois Department of Corrections to change the mindset of incarcerated people, as well as staff, regarding what rehabilitation should look like and how to focus attention on true rehabilitation.
Renaldo is responsible for founding the groundbreaking Building Block Program, a transformational program run by incarcerated people within the Illinois Department of Corrections. Currently, he serves as education director for the Illinois Prison Project (IPP). Renaldo’s work has been in Beecher and media outlets throughout the state, and the subject of the documentary Stateville Calling.
About Illinois Humanities' Envisioning Justice program
Envisioning Justice brings Illinois together to examine and reimagine the criminal legal system through the arts and humanities.
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.