Nasir Blackwell

Inner City Muslim Action Network

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GAGE PARK

I was serving a three-year mandatory supervised release when I became connected to Inner City Muslim Action Network (IMAN). IMAN offered me an opportunity to empower myself and my community by working with other formerly incarcerated individuals around issues that impact them. I was shocked, however, to find out that by associating with other ex-offenders on parole without prior written permission from my parole officer I was violating a parole technicality and was at risk of being sent back to prison.

"With my sights set on eliminating this restriction, I helped draft Senate Bill 2282, the Removing Invisible Bars Bill, to help protect individuals on parole from being rearrested for associating with others on parole while they are engaged in community efforts."

This harsh restriction created a disincentive for me and other brothers and sisters on parole to take part in public life like volunteering at community organizations like IMAN, attending worship services, or visiting family members. We were behind invisible bars.

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With my sights set on eliminating this restriction, I helped draft Senate Bill 2282, the Removing Invisible Bars Bill, to help protect individuals on parole from being rearrested for associating with others on parole while they are engaged in community efforts. The bill passed with strong bipartisan support and was signed by the Governor! Thousands of people across Illinois residing in communities like North Lawndale, Englewood, Austin, and my community of Gage Park will be positively impacted. As the Green ReEntry Resident Coordinator at IMAN, I will continue to work towards creating a fairer criminal justice system in Illinois.