WBEZ | Criminal Justice http://www.wbez.org/news/criminal-justice Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Sheriff calls on feds to investigate Puerto Rican agencies that send addicts to Chicago http://www.wbez.org/news/sheriff-calls-feds-investigate-puerto-rican-agencies-send-addicts-chicago-112079 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/tomdart ap.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart is asking the federal government to investigate P<a href="http://interactive.wbez.org/puertoricochicagopipeline/">uerto Rican agencies and government officials who send addicts to Chicago</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">Dart filed a fraud report with the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development inspector general this week. In it he warns the inspector general that recipients of HUD funding in Puerto Rico may be using federal funds to send heroin addicts off the island.</p><p dir="ltr">He said he hopes his report will move to the top of the inspector general&rsquo;s pile.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;When you have instances where people have committed some type of fraud where the only individual who was harmed was a governmental entity &hellip; it&rsquo;s a heck of a lot different than when you literally pluck people out of their country and drop them thousands and thousands of miles away,&rdquo; Dart said.</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/puerto-rico-exports-its-drug-addicts-chicago-111852">WBEZ reported last month</a> that Puerto Rican agencies and government officials have been sending people seeking treatment to unlicensed rehab centers on the mainland. Dart said that violates requirements that recipients of the federal funding &nbsp;only use licensed or certified rehab professionals. He also said the HUD rules direct organizations to minimize displacement. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;These deceptive at best operations of giving people one way tickets to the United States ... are gonna be in violation of the contracts that they have with HUD,&rdquo; Dart said.</p><p dir="ltr">Dart&rsquo;s report lists two examples of possible fraud:</p><p dir="ltr">The first is the municipality Bayamon, which operates the Nuevo Amanacer program. It has been receiving HUD funding since at least 2007, according to Dart&rsquo;s report. In 2014 Bayamon got a $217,977 HUD Emergency Solutions Grant.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It is unknown what portion of this grant is awarded to the Nuevo Amanecer program,&rdquo; the fraud complaint reads. But if it is being funded by HUD money, the program is in violation of several federal regulations, Dart alleges.</p><p dir="ltr">The second example sites the program Vuelta a la Vida. According to Dart, Vuelta a la Vida received more than $1.5 million from HUD in 2014 in the form of a continuum of care grant.</p><p dir="ltr">The rules for that grant require groups to use services that are in compliance with all state and local licensing laws. But none of the rehab centers identified in WBEZ&rsquo;s reporting are licensed by the state.</p><p dir="ltr">Dart said if the inspector general confirms his allegations, the groups could lose their federal funding. He also said his office is continuing its own investigation to see if unlicensed, unofficial addiction-help centers in Chicago are breaking any local laws.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Patrick Smith is a WBEZ producer and reporter. Follow him <a href="http://twitter.com/pksmid" target="_blank">@pksmid</a>. Adriana Cardona-Maguigad contributed to this story.</em></p></p> Fri, 22 May 2015 15:17:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/sheriff-calls-feds-investigate-puerto-rican-agencies-send-addicts-chicago-112079 Illinois prisons director resigns 2 months after taking job http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-prisons-director-resigns-2-months-after-taking-job-112077 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/wbez carlos javier ortiz.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>SPRINGFIELD, Ill. &mdash; Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner&#39;s choice for state prisons director has resigned just two months into the job.</p><div><p>Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly said Friday that the Republican governor had accepted the resignation of Donald Stolworthy.</p><p>She did not give a reason for the departure of the 54-year-old former U.S. State Department aide.</p><p>Neither Stolworthy nor his spokeswoman commented immediately.</p><p>Rauner named Stolworthy as acting director of the Department of Corrections on March 9. He previously worked for the State Department&#39;s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs where he assessed foreign prison systems.</p><p>Kelly says Stolworthy has agreed to &quot;help during the transition period&quot; to a new director. She had no other comment.</p><p>Stolworthy had a salary of $150,000 a year.</p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 22 May 2015 11:52:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-prisons-director-resigns-2-months-after-taking-job-112077 Illinois moves to downgrade pot possession to a fine http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-moves-downgrade-pot-possession-fine-112076 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/marijuanabug.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>SPRINGFIELD, Ill. &mdash; Legislation to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana is headed to Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner&#39;s desk.</p><p>The Illinois Senate voted 37-19 Thursday to make possession of 15 grams or less of marijuana a civil violation punishable by fines between $55 and a $125. Violators would not face jail time.</p><p>&quot;There has been much talk this year about criminal justice reform and being smarter on crime,&quot; said Sen. Michael Noland, the Senate sponsor of the legislation. &quot;With this measure the Senate and House take an important step in the right direction. The benefits we will see from this plan are innumerable.&quot;</p><p>It will be sent the governor after a second bill passes to address some concerns. One such concern addresses ensuring court records of the fines could be expunged without a court order.</p><p>Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly declined to comment on whether the governor would sign the bill, saying he would &quot;carefully consider any legislation that crosses his desk.&quot;</p><p>The vote comes the same day the Senate also approved a measure extending Illinois&#39; medical marijuana program by two or more years. That also heads to the governor&#39;s office, although Rauner is skeptical of extending the program.</p><p>More than a dozen states have removed jail time for possessing small amounts of marijuana, according to the Marijuana Policy Project, which advocates for marijuana law reform.</p><p>Marijuana advocacy and civil liberties groups see the effort as a step toward broader marijuana decriminalization. Some Republican lawmakers object to it for the same reason.</p><p>Rep. Kelly Cassidy is the original sponsor. She has said the measure isn&#39;t about decriminalization, but addressing racial disparities in enforcing marijuana possession.</p><p>&quot;This is not, frankly, decriminalizing. This is not legalizing,&quot; the Chicago Democrat said recent Senate committee. &quot;This is uniform enforcement.&quot;</p></p> Fri, 22 May 2015 09:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-moves-downgrade-pot-possession-fine-112076 Grand Jury Indicts 6 Baltimore Officers In Freddie Gray's Death http://www.wbez.org/news/grand-jury-indicts-6-baltimore-officers-freddie-grays-death-112073 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/freddiegrayyoutube.png" alt="" /><p><p>A grand jury has returned indictments against all six Baltimore Police Department officers charged in connection with the death last month of <a href="http://www.npr.org/tags/401114525/freddie-gray" target="_blank">Freddie Gray</a>, the state&#39;s attorney in Baltimore says.</p><p>Prosecutor Marilyn J. Mosby said at a news conference that the officers will be arraigned July 2. The charges against them are similar to <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/05/01/403496063/freddie-gray-update-new-speculation-on-his-death-and-peaceful-protests" target="_blank">those announced</a> May 1 that range from one count of second-degree murder and four counts of involuntary manslaughter to assault and misconduct in office. As Bill noted at the time:</p><blockquote><p>&quot;The most severe charges are leveled against Officer Caesar R. Goodson Jr., identified as the driver of the van that transported Gray to a police station. The charges against Goodson include second-degree depraved heart murder, which carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison.</p><p>&quot;The investigation by the prosecutor&#39;s office found there had been no reason to detain Gray &mdash; and that his arrest was in itself illegal, Mosby said. She said the knife that police officers found on Gray turned out to be legal.&quot;</p></blockquote><p>NPR&#39;s Jennifer Ludden, who is reporting on this story for our Newscast unit, says that while the most serious charges against the officers still stand, there is &quot;one change &mdash; charges of false imprisonment have been dropped.&quot; She adds:</p><blockquote><p>&quot;Mosby had originally based them on her contention that the knife Gray was carrying was legal, but lawyers for the officers dispute that. The grand jury added charges of reckless endangerment, bolstering Mosby&#39;s allegation that officers repeatedly failed to render aid to Gray after he asked for it.&quot;</p></blockquote><p>Gray, 25, was arrested April 12 and suffered a serious spine injury while in police custody. He died April 19. Mosby said Gray &quot;suffered a severe and critical neck injury as a result of being handcuffed, shackled by his feet, and unrestrained inside of the BPD wagon.&quot;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>For more coverage of this story, please click <a href="http://www.npr.org/tags/401114525/freddie-gray">here</a>.</p></p> Thu, 21 May 2015 17:28:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/grand-jury-indicts-6-baltimore-officers-freddie-grays-death-112073 Expert panel criticizes medical care at Illinois prisons http://www.wbez.org/news/expert-panel-criticizes-medical-care-illinois-prisons-112058 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/prisoncellfile_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A scathing report by court-approved researchers released on Tuesday paints a bleak picture of medical care in Illinois prisons, describing treatment delays, haphazard follow-up care, chaotic record keeping and a litany of other problems that may have cut short the lives of some inmates.</p><p>The 405-page report, which the Illinois Department of Corrections immediately disputed, was filed late Tuesday night in U.S. District Court in Chicago in a class-action suit against the agency, which oversees 49,000 inmates statewide. The report concludes that &quot;Illinois has been unable to meet minimal constitutional standards with regards to the adequacy of its health care program.&quot;</p><p>Within minutes of the filing, the Department of Corrections &nbsp;issued a brief statement saying the report &quot;uses a broad brush to paint an incomplete picture of the comprehensive medical system in place&quot; at prisons statewide. It added that the authors should not have drawn the sweeping conclusions they did after visiting just eight of 25 Illinois prison facilities.</p><p>When WBEZ asked why the public should trust the department over independent experts a department spokeswoman declined further comment.</p><p>The panel of experts, all of whom the Department of Corrections agreed in filings were qualified, also scrutinized a sample of 63 Illinois prisoner deaths from illness in recent years and found &quot;significant lapses&quot; in care in 60 percent of those cases. Their report called that percentage of prisoners who received shoddy care &quot;unacceptably high.&quot;</p><p>The report cited multiple individual cases, including that of a 48-year-old prisoner who pleaded for medical help after he began feeling chest pain and coughing up blood. But the report said it took six months for doctors at the Hill Correctional Center in Galesburg to locate a softball-size cancerous tumor clinging to his neck area and lung. But it was too late, and he died four months later on Jan. 30, 2013, according to the report.</p><p>&quot;The blatant disregard for this patient&#39;s obvious symptoms ... is stunning,&quot; the report said. &quot;Despite the patient&#39;s repeated earnest cries for help, including several instances wherein he was essentially stating, &#39;I think I have cancer,&#39; his symptoms were brushed off ... until ... this dying man could no longer be ignored.&quot;</p><p>Researchers singled out Dixon Correctional Center for being an &ldquo;extreme&rdquo; example of lacking leadership. Dixon had &ldquo;a vacant healthcare unit administrator position and a vacant director of nursing position&rdquo; when the researchers visited. &nbsp;</p><p>The Rev. Doris Green&rsquo;s husband Michael Smith <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/natural-causes-death-illinois-prisons-110455">died at Dixon in 2011 of untreated cancer.</a></p><p>&ldquo;I can almost see my husband&rsquo;s face in this one because I know what I went through &hellip; trying to help him live long enough for me to take my grandkids down to see him,&rdquo; Green said of the report.</p><p>She said the critical report confirms what she&rsquo;s been saying since her husband&rsquo;s death.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m almost in tears again because sometimes you feel like you&rsquo;re kinda like out there on an island yourself, but I knew I wasn&rsquo;t by myself because I knew &nbsp;many, many people were dying in prison,&rdquo; Green said.</p><p>WBEZ has <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-prison-health-care-lawsuit-getting-boost-aclu-107446">long reported</a> on poor health care in Illinois prisons, where the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-inmate-dies-3-hours-after-seeking-medical-care-110460">failures can be fatal</a> or <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-inmate-says-he-lost-60-pounds-when-broken-jaw-was-untreated-8-weeks-102852">simply cruel</a>.</p><p>In addition to the prison visits, the researchers also examined thousands of records the corrections department made available to them.</p><p>Inmates, even those imprisoned for murder, are entitled to better care, said Benjamin Wolf, a plaintiffs&#39; attorney who is also chief legal counsel of the ACLU of Illinois, which joined the lawsuit in 2013.</p><p>&quot;The measure of justice of a society is how it treats its most vulnerable, including prisoners,&quot; Wolf said. &quot;No one sentenced these guys to suffer and die of inadequate health care.&quot;</p><p>Inmate Don Lippert, a diabetic, brought the civil suit in 2010 that led to the new report. His complaint contends that &quot;deliberate indifference&quot; about inmates&#39; medical care violates Eighth Amendment prohibitions against cruel and unusual punishment. Prison officials have denied that allegation.</p><p>Plaintiffs argued that part of the blame lies with Wexford Health Services, Inc., one of the named defendants. The state of Illinois in 2011 awarded a ten-year contract worth more than $1.3 billion to provide healthcare to Illinois&#39; adult inmates, according to Wexford&#39;s website.</p><p>The plaintiffs&#39; complaint says Illinois pays Wexford a per-prisoner fee and &quot;thus has an economic incentive to provide minimal care.&quot;</p><p>Wexford has denied the lawsuit allegations in earlier filings. Wexford did not respond to requests for comment.</p><p>Jennifer Vollen-Katz, the executive director of prison watchdog John Howard Association, said the report shows that the state needs to do a better job of oversight.</p><p>&ldquo;They&rsquo;re paying them well over a billion dollars... to provide medical care to the people in their custody. And if they&rsquo;re not doing it or if they&rsquo;re not doing it well I think the Illinois Department of Corrections needs to know that and get somebody in there who can do it,&rdquo; Vollen-Katz said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s on [IDOC] to be watching &nbsp;what is going on in the facilities by these providers.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>Vollen-Katz said the report is another example that the grievance system in the state&rsquo;s prisons needs to be fixed. And she said it shows a need for an independent medical ombudsman for the department, through which inmates can file grievances specifically related to poor health care.</p><p>Green echoed Vollen-Katz&rsquo;s call for an outside monitor.</p><p>&ldquo;Someone should be overseeing and monitoring medical care for those that are incarcerated &hellip; community people need to get involved,&rdquo; Green said. &ldquo;There should be some type of committee &hellip; because for so long no one knew. Only family members that had loved ones that were dying, and some of them felt hopeless.&rdquo;</p><p><em>WBEZ&#39;s Patrick Smith contributed to this report</em></p></p> Wed, 20 May 2015 08:12:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/expert-panel-criticizes-medical-care-illinois-prisons-112058 Sheriff names clinical psychologist to run Cook County Jail http://www.wbez.org/news/sheriff-names-clinical-psychologist-run-cook-county-jail-112053 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/jail.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>A clinical psychologist has been picked to lead a Chicago jail that is one of the largest in the country.</p><p>Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart tapped Dr. Nneka Jones Tapia to lead the 9,000-inmate facility. Dart has long complained that drastic cuts to mental health programs have turned jails into dumping grounds for the mentally ill.</p><p>The American Jail Association said it knows of no other jail in the United States being headed by someone with the background of Jones Tapia. She previously was the jail&#39;s first assistant executive director.</p><p>As many as 35 percent of the jail&#39;s inmates suffer from serious mental illness. Dart says it has become &quot;one of the largest mental health institutions in the country.&quot;</p></p> Tue, 19 May 2015 16:50:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/sheriff-names-clinical-psychologist-run-cook-county-jail-112053 Prosecutor: No charges for white cop who killed black teen in Zion http://www.wbez.org/news/prosecutor-no-charges-white-cop-who-killed-black-teen-zion-112028 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/CE-u53ZUsAAe88l.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A prosecutor said Thursday that he won&#39;t charge a white northeastern Illinois police officer in the fatal shooting of a black 17-year-old, saying the fleeing teen was holding a loaded handgun and that the officer feared for his life and a fellow officer&#39;s.</p><p>Lake County State&#39;s Attorney Michael Nerheim told reporters an investigation that included the FBI found Zion police Officer Eric Hill was justified in shooting Justus Howell, of Waukegan, on April 4, despite concerns of racial bias that arose after a coroner reported Howell had been shot in the back twice.</p><p>Howell had met a man to buy a handgun but tried to steal it, authorities said. At some point, he scuffled with the seller and the gun went off. Hill arrived minutes later, chased Howell through yards and repeatedly yelled, &quot;Stop and drop your gun,&quot; Nerheim said. The officer shot Howell when the teen turned toward him with the gun in his right hand, Nerheim said.</p><p>Zion is a community of about 24,000 people along Lake Michigan about 45 miles north of Chicago, near the Illinois-Wisconsin state line</p><p>Hill, a nine-year police veteran, feared for his own safety and believed that a fellow officer was just around the corner and that Howell was headed straight for him, Nerheim said.</p><p>&quot;Officer Hill was justified in his decision to use deadly force ... Howell was armed and dangerous,&quot; Nerheim said. He added that Hill&#39;s understanding that shots had been fired earlier and concern for the other officer factored into his calculation to shoot.</p><p>After the announcement by Nerheim at the county courthouse in Waukegan, several community activists gathered to express their anger. Several wore buttons that read, &quot;Fire Nerheim.&quot;</p><p>&quot;People have never had faith in the system and with this, the last faith is out the door,&quot; said Kasey Burton, a 41-year-old Zion resident. &quot;I think people are going to be upset.&quot;</p><p>But hours later, the Zion neighborhood where the shooting occurred was quiet. A bouquet of flowers marked the spot where Howell fell, fatally wounded. Included in a makeshift memorial for him on a nearby corner was a rock with the word &quot;peace&quot; scrawled on it.</p><p>Standing outside a grocery store nearby, resident Darion Nash, 22, said distrust of police runs deep.</p><p>&quot;I don&#39;t like the police either, and I don&#39;t do anything to get in trouble,&quot; she said. &quot;But they keep getting away with things.&quot;</p><p>Prosecutors on Thursday also released a poor quality video of the shooting from a business security camera in which Hill can be seen running about 15 feet behind the teen, when shots are fired and Howell falls forward. Nerheim conceded Howell turned ever so slightly, but he said it was enough for Hill to see Howell&#39;s eye and the silver semi-automatic pistol.</p><p>Outside of the news conference, Howell&#39;s family disputed the decision not to charge the officer.</p><p>&quot;There is no video or pictures of him actually holding a gun,&quot; Alice Howell, the teen&#39;s grandmother, told the Chicago Sun-Times. She previously compared the incident to another police shooting in South Carolina, in which a white officer was charged with murder after a video showed him repeatedly shooting a black man in the back.</p><p>Howell&#39;s mother, LaToya Howell, said she was upset that authorities said video showed her son turning toward Hill.</p><p>&quot;I have seen that video,&quot; Howell said, according the Chicago Tribune. &quot;There is nothing that suggests they should execute my son.&quot;</p><p>Nerheim told reporters that multiple witnesses verified Howell had a gun. Just one, he said, thought Howell may have thrown it to the ground before shots rang out.</p><p>&quot;That is clearly not supported from the other witnesses or the video,&quot; he said.</p><p>Zion police Chief Stephen Dumyahn said he expects Hill to return to duty soon.</p><p>Zion&#39;s police force is currently disproportionately white, with just three black officers and half a dozen Latinos out of a nearly 50 officers in all, according to Dumyahn.</p><p>&quot;Our goal,&quot; he said, &quot;is to do a better job of recruitment.&quot;</p></p> Thu, 14 May 2015 12:55:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/prosecutor-no-charges-white-cop-who-killed-black-teen-zion-112028 Closing a 'dark chapter' http://www.wbez.org/news/closing-dark-chapter-111989 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/jon burge ap file_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>Updated: May 6, 2015</em></p><p>For Chicagoans, it&rsquo;s now a familiar story.</p><p>More than 100 African American men were tortured between 1972 and 1991 by former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge and officers under his command. Last month, for the first time, survivors had the opportunity to share their experiences with some members of Chicago&rsquo;s City Council.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;Up until November 2, 1983, I had a partial idea of how black people felt in the South when they were terrorized by the Ku Klux Klan,&rdquo; Darrell Cannon, a Burge victim, testified.</p><p>&ldquo;In my case, I was tortured by the new wave klan. The new wave klan wore badges instead of sheets,&rdquo; Cannon explained.&nbsp;</p><p>According to his testimony, three detectives drove Cannon out to an empty lot on the city&rsquo;s far South Side. There, they held a shotgun to his head and played Russian roulette. They told Cannon the game would go on until he told them what they wanted to hear.</p><p>Cannon spent two dozen years in prison for murder he says he didn&rsquo;t commit. In 1988, the city offered Cannon, and he accepted, $3,000 to settle his torture complaint. Only a handful of Burge&rsquo;s survivors have received compensation from the city.</p><p>That&rsquo;s because the city doesn&rsquo;t have to pay the victims--the statute of limitations has expired in most cases. But there have been strong arguments that for these men and the whole city to heal and move forward, Chicago must confront what Mayor Rahm Emanuel has called a &ldquo;dark chapter&rdquo; in the city&rsquo;s history.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">More than money</span></p><p>The reparations package, passed by the outgoing City Council Wednesday morning, calls for $5.5 million to be shared by living survivors with credible claims. The People&rsquo;s Law Office, which has been working with victims for more than 20 years, estimates some 120 men would be eligible for reparations; each individual award would be capped at $100,000. The package also calls for a public apology, a permanent public memorial and a counseling center for victims and families on the city&rsquo;s South Side. The ordinance does not specify how it will pay for the counseling center or where, specifically, it will be located.</p><p>And the &ldquo;dark chapter&rdquo; is to be taught in Chicago public schools. According to the city&rsquo;s corporation counsel, Steve Patton, students in 8th and 10th grades would learn about the Burge torture cases in history class, beginning in the 2015-2016 school year. They&rsquo;ll analyze primary source documents, review current cases of police brutality, and they&rsquo;ll discuss ways to improve accountability and protections of civil rights.</p><p>Such public acknowledgment could help repair the public&rsquo;s perception of police, according to former Chicago police officer and current 20th ward Ald. Willie Cochran.</p><p>&ldquo;Just like all of the shootings and killings we see going across the country now, it makes it much more difficult for officers to get the respect from the communities that we deserve,&rdquo; Cochran told a packed gallery at last month&rsquo;s hearing.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Unanimous support</span></p><p>Before the City Council vote Wednesday, the names of more than a dozen torture victims and survivors were read and they stood while the council gave them a standing ovation.</p><p>&quot;This stain cannot be removed from our city&#39;s history, but it can be used as a lesson of what not to do,&quot; Mayor Emanuel said.</p><p>The council voted 42-0 in favor of the reparations package, making Chicago the first city in the nation to do so.</p><p>Martha Biondi is a scholar of reparations and chair of the department of African American studies at Northwestern University. She said that by passing the reparations ordinance, Chicago could shift the national narrative around the relationship between people and the police.</p><p>&ldquo;This reparations ordinance models a new paradigm, it models a new pathway to justice,&rdquo; Biondi said.</p><p>Biondi believes America is at a crossroads.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re in this crisis...it&rsquo;s really becoming a crisis of governance, of democracy and of public safety,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>But, she added, it&rsquo;s up to the public to rethink and help change the rules around policing.</p><p>&ldquo;Why have we accepted this kind of policing, in city after city after city, in the United States? In which there will be large financial settlements paid out to survivors or family members of police brutality but nothing happens to those officers,&rdquo; Biondi said.</p><p>For his part, Darrell Cannon told the finance committee last month that no amount of money will make up for what he went through, or bring back the family that he lost while he was in prison. But still, he said, to make it this far was a victory in itself.</p><p>But, he added, if he gets some money from the city--he&rsquo;s going to buy a motorcycle.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m going to ride around City Hall--I&rsquo;m gonna do a lap, to say, &lsquo;Hey, thank you, for finally stepping up and doing the right thing,&rsquo;&rdquo; Cannon said with a smile. He even got a chuckle out of Finance Committee Chair Ald. Ed Burke.</p><p>He told the aldermen he was thankful that he was alive to witness the historic action--and asked them never to allow injustice of this nature to go this long unchecked.</p><p>&ldquo;We are making history...we&rsquo;re doing something that has not been did in any other state in the union. That&rsquo;s saying something about Chicago, that&rsquo;s saying something about Chicago politics,&rdquo; Cannon concluded.</p></p> Tue, 05 May 2015 17:07:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/closing-dark-chapter-111989 New Illinois policy: No solitary to punish juvenile inmates http://www.wbez.org/news/new-illinois-policy-no-solitary-punish-juvenile-inmates-111981 <p><p>A federal judge in Chicago has approved new rules strictly barring juvenile detention centers in Illinois from using solitary confinement to punish detainees.</p><p>The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois and the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice negotiated that policy change in an ongoing class-action lawsuit. The ACLU alleges solitary confinement can seriously damage inmates&#39; mental health.</p><p>ACLU lawyer Adam Schwartz said in a Monday statement &quot;ending solitary confinement is a mark of a forward-thinking agency.&quot; An agency spokesman didn&#39;t have an immediate comment Sunday evening.</p><p>Court filings indicate Judge Matthew Kennelly gave his OK in late April. Court-appointed monitors will oversee implementation.</p><p>Solitary confinement will be permitted in some cases if detainees are deemed a threat to themselves or others. But they usually must be released after 24 hours.</p></p> Mon, 04 May 2015 08:02:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/new-illinois-policy-no-solitary-punish-juvenile-inmates-111981 Sheriff's office announces new mental health clinic http://www.wbez.org/news/sheriffs-office-announces-new-mental-health-clinic-111979 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Mental health jail.JPG" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-1d687b03-119d-3f9e-cb1c-805194ec9b5e">Cook County Sheriff&rsquo;s office is &nbsp;launching a new mental health clinic in the south suburbs. Sheriff Tom Dart says the clinic is a direct response to government mental health cuts.</p><p dir="ltr">The clinic is already operating at the Markham Courthouse. People detained there will be screened for mental health needs. Some will then be diverted from the jail to the new clinic under court order. The clinic will also be available to people leaving county jail and seeking services.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Related: <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/large-provider-chicago-mental-health-services-c4-closing-111937" target="_blank">Staff mourn closure of mental health provider C4</a></strong></p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;If no one else is going to do it, we are going to,&rdquo; said Cara Smith, director of Cook County Jail.</p><p dir="ltr">She says the jail is doing what it can, but it&rsquo;s part of a larger system. She says the millions of dollars in proposed state cuts to mental health would be catastrophic. But if the cuts go through it will not be the first time she&rsquo;s seen services disappear. In 2012 the city cut half its mental health clinics, and just last week one of the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/large-provider-chicago-mental-health-services-c4-closing-111937">largest mental health providers in Chicago announced it was closing its doors. </a></p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Our custodial population in the jail is almost at a record low. But our population of &nbsp;medically and mentally ill people that need hospital level care is at an all time high,&rdquo; said Smith. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">It is not only the jail that says it has felt a change as services have closed. Emergency Rooms in Chicago saw a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/large-provider-chicago-mental-health-services-c4-closing-111937">37 percent rise in ER discharges for psychiatric care. </a></p><p>Dart says he chose to open the clinic in the south suburbs because the area is extremely lacking in mental health services. The clinic is run in collaboration with Adler Community Health Services.</p><p><em>Shannon Heffernan is a reporter at WBEZ. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/shannon_h">@shannon_h</a></em></p></p> Fri, 01 May 2015 17:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/sheriffs-office-announces-new-mental-health-clinic-111979