You can make a Difference —  Donna Treadwell   page 2

Last updated

December 15, 2005

Donna Treadwell (pg 2)

Donna Treadwell’s story (continued):

Donna began talking to other mothers in Springfield and surrounding communities and found they had similar stories to tell. 


She was fortunate to find an ally nearby:  Jill Savage, director of “Hearts at Home”, a national mothers group based in Bloomington, IL.  Jill, also a mother of four, had a similar experience when she was summoned for jury service in 1997.  In a written statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee, she wrote:  “When my fourth child Austin was an infant, I was called to jury duty.  Although I have always wanted to serve in this responsibility, doing so during this season of my life was a difficult, if not a damaging responsibility.”


In addition to nursing Austin, I had two other children at home.  The cost of daycare for those children was overwhelming to think about.  I have no family nearby to assist in a week’s worth of care.  And my nursing child needed his physical needs taken into consideration. I couldn’t convince anyone of the hardship of my situation, though, and found myself required to fulfill the responsibility.”

Jill notes that she was only called in one day for four hours, but doesn’t know what she would have done if the court had required her to serve a solid week.


In addition to Jill Savage, Donna garnered support from several mothers from the local MOPS (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers) group.


Then Donna Treadwell contacted Sen. Margaret Smith at the statehouse in Springfield.  Sen. Smith had sponsored some family friendly legislation in the past, and Donna thought she might have a listening ear. Sen. Smith responded with encouragement and asked Donna to help her design some wording to introduce a bill that would make full-time motherhood a valid exemption from jury duty.  


Mothers who are nursing or caring for infants and small children have been forced to serve on juries despite their family hardship”, stated Sen. Smith in an article about this legislation in the Chicago Defender.  “They shouldn’t have to choose.”   Stressing the benefits of this legislation for those being cared for, Sen Smith stated, “This legislation forces the counties (courts) and the jury commission to look at the effect it would have on the person being cared for if the caregiver was forced out of the home to serve on jury duty.”


In March 1999,  Several moms and their children appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee to show their support for the legislation. The bill moved swiftly from committee to the legislative floor where it unanimously passed both the House and the Senate that Spring. On July 23, 1999, Gov. Ryan signed Public Act 91-0264 into law.


As Jill Savage said, “The challenge before us now is to educate both the public and those who work in our judicial system.  It is possible that some full-time mothers can make the necessary arrangements to fulfill a jury duty summons. For those who cannot, though, it is important that they know about (existing family friendly jury duty laws or how to enact these laws for their state)”.


Thank you, Donna Treadwell, for stepping out and speaking for women in the profession of motherhood!  Your courage will make a difference in the lives of mothers and families across the state of Illinois!

Excerpts Taken from:

·          “Moms Win Battle Against Courts”, MOCAH - encouraging words for Mothers of Color at Home newsletter, Volume 4, issue 3, Fall 1999.

·          “Bill could keep caretakers off juries”, by Shelia Washington, Chicago Defender, May 11, 1999

·          The “Hearts at Home” column, “Stay-At-Home Moms Have Jury Duty Option”, Published in The Pantagraph, by Jill Savage Bloomington, IL  November 4, 2000.

You can make a difference!

Angela’s story (California) 

Barbara’s story (Georgia)

Mothers & More Atlanta Chapter (Georgia)

Donna’s Story (Illinois)

Donna’s Story (Illinois) pg.2

Tawni’s story (Oregon)

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