Our Brothers' Keepers - 2017 (March & April Update)


OBK Operational Structure & Property-Site Selection Criteria

The OBK Board has continued to move forward to update the operational structure by forming two Low-Profit Limited Liability Companies named GEN-PU, L3C (Property Unit) and GEN-OU, L3C (Operating Unit). A manager was named for each L3C headed by Mr. John Laker (Property Unit) and Dcn. Tim DeRousse (Operating Unit). Each of these L3C will have their Federal ID (EIN) and bank checking account. A lease agreement will be established between GEN-PU, L3C the landlord of the property and GEN-OU, L3C the operating unit. The operating unit will pay rent to the property unit to help pay down the loan principle of the land and building.

OBK will also establish a license agreement between GEN-OU, L3C (the operating unit) and the Residents of the Operating Unit. The residents will be connected with the operating unit and provide liability protection from the OBK parent and the property unit.

Work is in progress by the OBK attorney to file the Articles of Organization with the Secretary of State for the L3C Property and L3C Operating Units.

OBK is also working with the J.W. Terrill Agency to review the OBK Board Liability in addition to General Liability and Builders Risk coverage for the new construction.

OBK Property-Site Selection

The ESL Planning Dept working with Jabari Conrad has provided a listing of some 36 properties in the East St. Louis area that are available for site selection. OBK has developed a set of criteria that could be used to assess if the site would be acceptable that includes:

  • Title Commitment-Chain of Title search up to a 100 years (as required) with an attached schedule B as provided by Benedick Title Insurance (O’Fallon, IL)
  • ALTA/NSPS Land Title Survey of the property based on selected items as provided by Sherrill Associates (Edwardsville, IL)
  • Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment of the property that includes a review of records (federal, state, physical setting, historical site use, ownership history, and a search for environmental clean-up liens) as provided by Quality Testing & Engineering Inc. (O’Fallon, IL)
  • Zoning reports and recorded licensing that pertains to the land and buildings on the site available through the ESL Licensing & Permit Office.
  • Review of the OBK site & building assessment criteria list.

These 36 properties as list by ESL were reviewed by various OBK criteria and none were found acceptable as the site for the OBK home. Further work will continue to begin review of any ESL property that is under control of St. Clair County through the St. Clair County Land Trust for failure to pay taxes on the property.

Architect’s Building Design

OBK is working with Environs (Architect-Planners, Michael Sapp AIA, Maryville, IL) on the building design based on a single building that includes the Property Unit (building) and the Operating Unit (service provider area). The tentative building design is summarized as follows:

  • OBK Campus (Property and Operating Unit) at 6,300 sq. ft.
  •  Property Unit: library/office, computer room, common gathering area, kitchen, six bedrooms & bath rooms, laundry, storage area and a mechanical room.
  • Operating Unit: group meeting area, offices, small kitchen, bathrooms and computer training area.

The next step is to complete any new design changes and prepare drawings with sufficient detail to obtain construction bids. In addition, elevation drawings will be prepared with landscaping and parking areas etc. suitable to begin a capital fundraising campaign.

Our Brothers' Keepers - 2017 (January & February Update)


The New Year 2017 began as it ended with a flurry of activity to further clarify the operational timeline for the development of a "returning citizens" home in the East St. Louis community. OBK received the full approval of the East St. Louis Planning Commission on October 26, 2016 to build and operate a supervised home program for adult males released from prison and on parole. The approval plan included the security measures and monitoring procedures that would be in place for the returning citizens home residents. This approval was followed by a formal presentation to the East St. Louis City Council on December 8, 2016 that included the Public Works, Finance, Public Safety and Community Development Committees.

On January 6, OBK met with Jabari Conrad (ESL TIF/Finance) and provided a detailed list of criteria for the selection of vacant land and/or an existing building for rehab. The first progress report from Jabari was on January 27 and covered a wide variety of topics to further the OBK and ESL partnership that included special funding districts, economic and county assitance programs that could be available as they continue to catalog a listing of properties owned either by ESL or the County. In a telephone conversation (February 18) Jabari indicated that the vacant property listing is about completed and we are ready to start the criteria review of these listings.

At the January and February OBK Board meetings the 2017 operational timeline was reviewed and a series of Board initiatives were begun that included the annual review of OBK Operational Policies and the OBK Corporations structure. The Board has approved a contract for a grant writer to continue preparation of documents for both Federal and State grants. A series of meeting were also held with the architect regarding the building design criteria that will include in a single structure the Property Unit (resident's home living area) and the Operating Unit (services provider area). Several contractors have expressed interest in managing the construction, but at this time the criteria review of the options for vacant land and the architects building design are the next critical steps.

Prisoners in 2015: (December 2016, NCJ 250229)



At yearend 2015, an estimated 1.53 million prisoners were held in state and federal facitlities across the United States. This was a 2.3% decrease from yearend 2014, and the largest decline since 1978. Forty percent of the decrease in the total prison population from  2014-2015 can be attributed to a decline in the number of inmates under Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) jurisdiction, which decreased 7% (14,100 inmates) during the period.

Prison Population Trends:

A decrease in prison admissions and an increase in releases also contributed to the overall population decline, State and federal prisons admitted 608,300 persons in 2015, which was 17,800 fewer than in 2014. They released 641,000 persons in 2015, 4,700 more than in 2014. There were also 30,900 fewer prisoners sentenced to more than 1 year under the jurisdiction of state or federal authorities at yearend 2015 than at yearend 2014. Additionally, the number of female prisoners sentenced to more than 1 year in a state or federal facility decreased by 1% during this period.

U.S. Imprisonment Rate:

The overall U.S. imprisonment rate declined from 2014 (471 sentenced prisoners per 100,000 U.S. residents of all ages) to 2015 (458 per 100,000). The male imprisonment rate declinded by almost 3% from 2014 (889 per 100,000 U.S. male residents) to 2015 (863 per 100,000). The female imprisonment rate was down by almost 2% from 2014 (65 per 100,000 U.S. female residents) to 2015 (64 per 100,000). There were twice as many white females (52,700) as black females (21,700) in the sentenced prison population as yearend 2015, but the imprisonment rate for black females (103 per 100,000 U.S. female residents) was twice the rate for white females (52 per 100,000)

About State and Federal Prisoners:

More than half (53%) of state prisoners were serving sentences for violent offenses in 2014, compared to 19% for property offenses and less than 16% for drug crimes. Half (50%) of BOP inmates were serving sentences for drug offenses and about 7% were serving sentences for violent offenses.

At yearend 2015, females made up 7% (105,000 prisoners) of the sentenced federal and state prison population. Almost 11% of the sentenced state and federal prison population were age 55 or older, and 2% were age 65 or older. State prisons had jurisdiction over an estimated 1,000 prisoners age 17 or younger by yearend 2015. Additionally, the BOP had custody of 21,500 inmates it identified as noncitizens, and state prisons held 43,600 noncitizen inmates at yearend 2015.

Use of Private Prisons:

Six states (Hawaii, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, and Oklahoma) housed at least 20% of their prison population in privately operated facilities at yearend 2015. Almost 7% of state prisoners (91,300 inmates) and 18% of federal prisoners (34,900) were held in private prison facilities in 2015. An additional 6% of state prisoners (80,400 inmates) were in the custody of local jails at yearend 2015.

Reference: The full report (Prisoners in 2015, NCJ 250229, Summary December 2016), related documents, and additional information about the Bureau of Justice Statistics can be found at the U.S. States Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, and Bureau of Justice Statistics.


Reference Select: Bureau of Justice Statistics


Illinois State Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform

 Final Report: Parts I & II (December 2016)

In February 2015, Governor Bruce Rauner created the Illinois State Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform. As the Commission began its work, Illinois prisons were operating at 150% of design capacity, and, at the beginning of 2015, housed 48,278 inmates, almost half of whom were sentenced for non-violent offenses, Nearly all of these prisoners will eventually return to their communities, and about half will be re-incarcerated within the following three years.

The Commission completed Part 1 of its work in December 2015 with fourteen recommendations. The Commission continued their work in 2016 and added another thirteen recommendations in Part II. These twenty-seven recommendations cover a wide variety of sentencing reforms and in particular include several that directly focus on efforts of reducing recidivism when prisoner are released back into their community. Four of these recommendation are reported here since they could enhance the efforts of Our Brothers' Keepers of Southern Illinois to provide support housing and services to those returning citizen so that they can be productive citizens in their communities.

  • Increase rehabilitative services and treatment capacity in high-need communities. Give the highest priority to behavioral health/trauma services, housing, and work force development with transportation support.
  • Make better use of Adult Transition Centers. Ensure that the use of Adult Transition Centers are informed by the risk-and-needs research and evidence, which shows that residential transitional facilities, paired with appropriate programming, should be primarily reserved for high and medium risk offenders to obtain the greatest public safety benefit.
  • Enhance rehabilitative programming in IDOC. Implement or expand evidence-based programming that targets criminogenic need, particularly cognitive behavioral therapy and substance abuse treatment.
  • Restore the Halfway Back program for an alternative to incarceration for violations of Mandatory Supervised Release. The goal of the HWB was to reduce the rate of return to IDOC for technical violations by providing a highly-structured community residential environment with 90 days of programming to address cognitive, behavioral, social, and other skills. The program consisted of 15 hours per week of services, including assessments, group sessions, individual counseling, GED instructions and pre-employment training.

Role of Prisons and The Impact of High Incarceration

In recent years Illinois' prison population has reached a record high of almost 50,000 inmates in a system designed for 32,000 people, making the Illinois Department of Corrections one of the largest and most crowded prison systems in the United States. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Illinois incarceration remained comparatively stable at between 54 and 66 inmates per 100,000 citizens, with its prisons housing fewer than 10,000 people. But by the 1970s there was a growing opinion that "nothing worked" to rehabilitate offenders, and that the most effective response to crime was increasing the use of prison to incapacitate current offenders and deter future ones. In the last four decades, the Illinois prison population has grown from fewer than 10,000 to a recent high of about 49,000 inmates. More alarmingly, the rate of imprisonment increased more than five-fold, from about 66 inmates per 100,000 citizens in 1975, to almost 380 inmates per 100,000 in 2014.

OBK Returning Citizens HOME & Criminal Justice Ministry - December Progress Report

Our Brothers’ Keepers of Southern Illinois received the full approval of the ESL Planning Commission on October 26, 2016 to build and operate a supervised housing program for adult males released from prison and on parole. The approval plan included the security measures and monitoring procedures that would be in place for the residents. OBK is seeking to proceed with the assistance from the City of East St. Louis to find an acceptable site of vacant land and/or existing structure for rehab.

The OBK Board of Directors made a formal presentation to the East St. Louis City Council on December 8th, 2016. Mayor Emeka Jackson-Hick and the City Council Committee members included Public Works Committee (Robert Eastern III, President Pro Tem of City Council), Finance Committee (June Hamilton-Dean), Public Safety Committee (Latoya Greenwood), and Community Development Committee (Roy Mosly Sr.)

Mayor Emeka Jackson-Hicks, City Manager Courtney Logan and City Attorney Michael Wagner agreed that no voice vote approval was required at the meeting. The Planning Commission had officially approved the OBK project. The City Council had reviewed the OBK presentation document, recommendation of the Planning Department (Darren Thompson and Jesse Lofton) and the documentation from Tina Phillips and were in agreement to proceed. Tina Phillips indicated that Jabari Conrad will be the OBK contact for finding vacant land and/or a suitable structure for rehab. OBK will submit a list of criteria for the home to narrow the selection process.

The following criminal justice articles are included that continue to support the need for restorative justice and rehabilitation of returning citizens released from prisons and jails and entering communities as responsible citizens.

  • Catholic Conference of Illinois – Statement to Members of the Illinois Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform
  • The U.S. Government’s Verdict on Private Prisons (The Atlantic)
  • “Tough on Crime” Doesn’t Pay (America Magazine)
  • IDOC’s Mental Health Settlement in Rasho v. Baldwin (Rasho)