The Prison Project, launched by CAIR-Chicago in 2005, is an ongoing initiative at CAIR-Chicago that aims to give incarcerated Muslims the supplies they need to worship. Oftentimes, prisoners learn more about Islam while imprisoned and lack the tools to continue their journey of knowledge once they convert. CAIR-Chicago wants to help those in prisons by giving them the tools they need to stay close to God, should they choose, and to practice their religion and religious customs without discrimination.
The Prison Project aims to fulfill two goals:
- To secure the rights of inmates to practice their religion freely, and
- To ensure inmates are treated humanely.
In addition to providing civil rights services and legal counsel, CAIR-Chicago is proud to be an ongoing source of spiritual and cultural services to incarcerated Muslims.
In September of 2012, CAIR-Chicago’s Prison Project held an Eid-Ul-Fitr celebration for incarcerated Muslims at the Stateville Correctional Center. Thanks to the help of countless dedicated volunteers from the Bridgeview and Chicago Muslim communities, the inmates who spent the month of Ramadan in fasting and worship were given a much-needed celebration.
Inmates at Stateville Correctional Center always noticed how their Jewish and Christian counterparts were able to celebrate Passover and Christmas every year. Members of the Jewish community collaborated and collected food donations to distribute during Passover. The same was done by the Christian community for Christmas.
The impact of the project was expressed best in the words of the Muslim inmates who sent numerous thank you letters to CAIR-Chicago and the volunteers. Some of their words reflect the obligation we have, as a community, to extend our support to oftentimes forgotten members of our community:
“I love you all and may Allah bless you for all your good deeds.”
“This was the best Eid-el-Fitr I’ve had here or at Menard CC.”
“It was truly wonderful to have such a meal from our Muslim community; especially since Muslim prisoners are often forgotten by the Muslim community at large.”
“I truly thank you, that was our first feast since 1996.”
We hope to relaunch this initiative soon, and expand upon it in the years that come.