Build Programs, Not Jails (BPNJ) actively organizes against jail expansion in Champaign County, Illinois. We advocate for programs and services that decrease local rates of incarceration, challenge racial disparity, expand mental health treatment, and research pretrial and risk assessment options. Join us in making Champaign County a healthier, more just place to live.
We are in opposition to jail construction and advocate for social services because:
1 – Our community needs programs, not jail cells.
Our county lacks essential community-based services, that could enable us all to function well and be productive, and hence keep many at-risk individuals out of jail. These services include a mental health treatment facility, a substance abuse program, decent public housing, job training, and living-wage job opportunities. We need to invest our resources in these programs, not in locking people up.
2 – The composition of our county’s jail population reflects New Jim Crow practices.
While only 13% of the county population is Black, on any given day more than 50% of those in the jail are Black. We need to end racial profiling, over-policing Black youth in the North End and Southeast Urbana, and over-charging Blacks for drug-possession as well as for petty violations like jaywalking and disturbing the peace.
3 – Our county holds people in jail who pose no threat to public safety.
About 20% of those in the jail have only a traffic violation. A large number of them either lack financial resources to pay the fines and the amount of bail set for them, or have mental health issues or substance abuse problems, which require treatment, not incarceration.