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Chicago Tribune on 9/21/2022 by Annie Sweeney
A crowd of parole and probation officers had assembled, filling in couches and chairs around a conference table in the sunny office space with exposed brick walls and high ceilings in the decidedly hip Lacuna Lofts building in Pilsen.
Colette Payne stood at the stage with a mic in her hand and a wide smile on her face.
“Welcome to the Women’s Justice Institute,” she said, then pausing for a few seconds.
“This,” she said to applause, “is our house.”
Payne, a director at the institute, and the other women there had collectively spent decades inside the Illinois prison system. But on a recent day, parole and probation agents from across the country — including the head of the women’s parole unit in the Illinois Department of Corrections — were at the institute’s newly opened Reclamation Center for a presentation by Payne and other formerly incarcerated women who run the center.