WBEZ | Criminal Justice http://www.wbez.org/news/criminal-justice Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Exoneree Diaries: "You've got anger issues, Dad." http://www.wbez.org/news/exoneree-diaries-youve-got-anger-issues-dad-110563 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/jaques_0_0_0_0_4.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>&ldquo;I haven&rsquo;t received no counseling. People&rsquo;s been telling me that I have anger issues. I don&rsquo;t see it, but you know, of course, you never look at yourself in that manner. But now I&rsquo;m starting to accept it. Maybe a therapist or somebody could sit down and talk with me. But they [the state] don&rsquo;t provide you nothing. They don&rsquo;t provide me no healthcare, no type of therapy, no counseling, nothing.&rdquo;</em></p><p>&ldquo;<strong>DON&rsquo;T EAT</strong> too much candy!&rdquo; Jacques hollered to his work friends, one by one, as they headed home from the medical school.</p><p>It was Halloween, and despite the smile plastered on his face, Jacques was worn out. He had covered someone else&rsquo;s deliveries all day while keeping up on his own.</p><p>His body was tired. His mind was busy. His heart was heavy. And he felt embarrassed and misunderstood.</p><p>&ldquo;You&rsquo;ve got anger issues, Dad.&rdquo;</p><p>He didn&rsquo;t know what to do with those words. The warning had come after a Hennessy-fueled night for his son&rsquo;s birthday. Jacques didn&rsquo;t normally drink, but he was trying to fit in and goof off. In jest, he pulled out a knife. But because of his background, it scared his family and friends.</p><p>In prison, Jacques would cry and cry through his anger. He was offered medication. He said no because he saw what those pills did to people.</p><p>Sometimes, he would lose his temper. When he shared a cell with a Muslim in county jail, Jacques told him he was cool with his prayer schedule. But when the guy washed his feet before praying, he wouldn&rsquo;t clean out the sink. The carelessness irritated Jacques.</p><p>&ldquo;You mother ------!&rdquo; Jacques would scream.</p><p>A guy from another cell suggested Jacques&rsquo; cell mate simply wipe his feet before prayer, and that solved it.</p><p>At Stateville, where Jacques did all his time, people trusted him. He would roam around the prison. He showed new correctional officers the ropes. He would find their keys or cash laying about and turn them back in. In the kitchen where he worked, Jacques would give extra taco meat to some guys to get what he wanted. He stock-piled cereal in his cell. It was currency. It was power and control.</p><p>But on the outside, more than 20 years after being wrongly convicted, Jacques alarmed the people around him. When his paranoia met his passionate tone of voice &ndash; which would quickly rise from raspy and soft to frantic and loud &ndash; he would look like he was going to lose it.</p><p>&ldquo;I know he was having a difficult time sleeping,&rdquo; said Rose, Jacques&rsquo; sister, whose upstairs apartment he occupied with their mother. &ldquo;He was afraid that somebody was going to come up to the house. Every night when he goes upstairs, he locks the door. He locks the inside door that goes upstairs.&rdquo;</p><p>Rose had recently seen Jacques outside her home preparing to throw a rock with his left hand and waving his cell phone with his right hand. It was nighttime, and he had tried to call her, but her phone was on silent.</p><p>&ldquo;What are you doing?&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s something there!&rdquo; Jacques exclaimed. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s right there. Can you see it?&rdquo;</p><p>A small black mass moved through the gangway. Jacques was convinced it was a possum. His son Richard had once lived at Rose&rsquo;s too, and he told Jacques he once saw a possum just outside the house.</p><p>The innocuous detail roused Jacques&rsquo; fears every time he walked home at night.</p><p>Finally, one night, he saw something dark scamper through the gangway.</p><p>Rose told Jacques that if it was a possum, it wasn&rsquo;t dangerous.</p><p>Jacques asked her to send down one of the dogs to scare it. Rose said no because the possum might have rabies.</p><p>&ldquo;I thought you said it wasn&rsquo;t dangerous!&rdquo; Jacques yelled.</p><p>He called to his mom upstairs to see if she could scare it away.</p><p>Rose went to get a flashlight. She pointed it at the suspicious creature.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a bag dude,&rdquo; she said, laughing and relieved.</p><p>Jacques&rsquo; heart pounded as the garbage bag gulped the air around them and kept moving.</p></p> Mon, 28 Jul 2014 09:37:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/exoneree-diaries-youve-got-anger-issues-dad-110563 Gary looks for answers as slain police officer is remembered http://www.wbez.org/news/gary-looks-answers-slain-police-officer-remembered-110488 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Gary police 1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Retired Gary police officer Kenneth Shannon has attended a lot of funerals over the years. Some of his fallen comrades died in car accidents and others were killed by gunfire.</p><p>Today, Shannon watched from a balcony seat in a downtown convention center as dozens of law enforcement officers walked passed a closed casket of Gary Patrolman Jeffrey Westerfield &ndash; the latest to die in the line of duty.</p><p>&ldquo;He was a very personable person. A well-liked guy,&rdquo; Shannon said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s just a tragedy that someone would think of doing something like this to an officer.&rdquo;</p><p>That something occurred during the early morning hours of Sunday, July 6th &ndash; the very day Westerfield was to celebrate his 47th birthday.</p><p>The 19-year veteran responded to a call near 26th and Van Buren, only a couple of blocks from Michael Jackson&rsquo;s boyhood home. He was later found dead of a gunshot wound, sitting in his police cruiser about 5:30 a.m.</p><p>The death rocked a city that is no stranger to gun violence. And now some are asking if Gary has enough resources to protect not just its citizens &ndash; but its own cops.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s bad everywhere but the city is basically safe. You&rsquo;ve got a group of thugs that want to do what they want to do and there&rsquo;s nothing you can do about it.&nbsp;</p><p>Still, that doesn&rsquo;t mean the city isn&rsquo;t trying.</p><p>Gary officials want to boost patrols, but with a dwindling tax base there&rsquo;s not much money to go around. The city, once one of the largest in the state, is down to less than 80-thousand residents. It&rsquo;s not even the largest in Lake County, Indiana.</p><p>Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter says he&rsquo;s hoping to divert resources from the county level to help.</p><p>&ldquo;Gary obviously needs the assistance and you see our community being so aggressive with crime. You see it in Chicago too, but I think it goes back to parenting and kids and now we&rsquo;re paying the price for it,&rdquo; Carter said.</p><p>Longtime Gary City Councilman Roy Pratt also says Westerfield&rsquo;s death raises questions about police patrol tactics.</p><p>It&rsquo;s not so much manpower but we&rsquo;ve got to have more on the evening shift. He was alone by himself,&rdquo; Pratt said.</p><p>The City&rsquo;s Mayor, Karen Freeman Wilson, says she&rsquo;ll soon talk with the county sheriff&rsquo;s department about beefing up patrols. And she may ask Indiana Governor Mike Pence to assign state police to help as well.</p><p>She asked twice last year and was rejected both times. Although the Governor&rsquo;s office provided training and offered suggestions on improving the city&rsquo;s 227-member police force.</p><p>&ldquo;Of course today is for the family but tomorrow is really for us to analyze of what&rsquo;s going on and how we can do better,&rdquo; Freeman-Wilson said at today&rsquo;s funeral.</p><p>Some would say it&rsquo;s hard to do much better than an officer like Jeffrey Westerfield.</p><p>Dean Hensley lived on the same block as Westerfield in the Black Oak neighborhood. He says it was important to his fallen friend to live where he worked.</p><p>&ldquo;Jeff didn&rsquo;t have a hard job. Jeff was the kind of guy that could walk into any situation and defuse it in a heartbeat. He could turn a tragedy into a blessing,&rdquo; Hensley said. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re just going to have to go on with life and remember him. Now, we have another angel watching over us.&rdquo;</p><p>Officer Jeffrey Westerfield leaves behind four daughters, a son and a fiance.</p><p>A person of interest is being held with criminal charges possibly coming soon.</p></p> Mon, 14 Jul 2014 17:26:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/gary-looks-answers-slain-police-officer-remembered-110488 Prison health care worker finds request for medical care after inmate dies http://www.wbez.org/news/prison-health-care-worker-finds-request-medical-care-after-inmate-dies-110470 <p><p>On July 28, 2012, Elawndoe Shannon put in a request for sick call at the prison where he was housed in Lawrence, Illinois. Two days later, he died. The day after his death a nurse in the health care unit finally got his request slip for medical care.</p><p>&ldquo;That means somebody took it and just said, &lsquo;Oh it don&rsquo;t matter, ain&rsquo;t nothing wrong with him.&rsquo; That&rsquo;s crazy!&rdquo; said his sister Jackie Shannon in a recent interview on the front porch of her house on Chicago&rsquo;s South Side.</p><p>&ldquo;Everybody&rsquo;s entitled to see a doctor. I don&rsquo;t care, you could live in a hole somewhere. If you come out of that hole and you&rsquo;re sick, you should be able to see a doctor. How many other ones in there that need to see the doctor are not seeing a doctor?&rdquo; she said.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="20" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/157870823&amp;color=ff5500&amp;inverse=false&amp;auto_play=false" width="736.25px"></iframe></p><p>It&rsquo;s not unusual for Illinois inmates to complain that they have trouble seeing doctors.</p><p>In another story, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-inmate-dies-3-hours-after-seeking-medical-care-110460">WBEZ reported on Anthony Rencher</a> who went to the prison health care unit in the middle of the night where he was observed in the waiting room for an hour before he returned to his cell where he died.</p><p>And then there&rsquo;s the case of Daniel Nevarez.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Screen%20Shot%202014-07-10%20at%2012.15.56%20AM.png" style="width: 620px;" title="Salvador Nevarez sitting on the front stoop of his home near Midway Airport with his son, Alonzo. (WBEZ/Robert Wildeboer)" /><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 24.44444465637207px; line-height: 22px;">Letter from the grave</span></p><p>Daniel&rsquo;s brother Alonzo Nevarez sits on the front stoop of his dad&rsquo;s bungalow near Midway Airport and reads through a letter his brother Danny wrote from prison.</p><p>&ldquo;We got the letter after Danny passed, and it was, it&rsquo;s him talking from the grave actually,&rdquo; said Nevarez.</p><p>It&rsquo;s in Spanish and Alonzo translates while he reads. &ldquo;The reason for this card, to beg you to help him, he&rsquo;s sick, and the people from this facility, no me quieren, they don&rsquo;t want to help me. These people are not taking me serious. I need help.&rdquo;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="20" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/157730343&amp;color=ff5500&amp;inverse=false&amp;auto_play=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><blockquote><p><strong style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14.44444465637207px; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">Related:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/natural-causes-death-illinois-prisons-110455" style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-size: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; line-height: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; text-decoration: none; color: rgb(0, 104, 150); outline: 0px;" target="_blank">Man who died of prostate cancer showed symptoms in prison 14 years before death</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>According to medical records, in March of 2010 Nevarez complained to a prison health care worker of pain in his knee. The prison took an X-ray but found nothing. The doctor prescribed some drugs and told Nevarez to exercise as much as possible.</p><p>A year later Nevarez was still complaining about his knee. He was prescribed Motrin and referred to a doctor. The next two appointments with the prison doctor were cancelled, one because of understaffing and another one because there was no security escort.</p><p>&ldquo;He called when he was in prison complaining that they were ignoring him. They wouldn&rsquo;t let him see the doctor,&rdquo; said Nevarez.</p><p>The medical records also show that on several occasions Nevarez refused to see health care workers. In one instance he&rsquo;s quoted as refusing to see the prison doctor because he wants to be immediately taken for surgery on his knee. On another occasion he refuses to pay the $2.00 co-pay and is therefore denied care.</p><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 24.44444465637207px; line-height: 22px;">Cancer diagnosis</span></p><p>When the mass on his knee was diagnosed as cancer 15 months after his first complaints, the tumor was hard to miss. It was 5 centimeters by 5 centimeters by 3 centimeters.</p><p>Daniel&rsquo;s father Salvador Nevarez said his son was complaining that the prison wasn&rsquo;t giving him health care,&nbsp; so the family had a lawyer contact the prison.</p><p>Nevarez went to an outside hospital where the tumor was removed. He also went for 33 radiation treatments. A year after his treatments on December 13, 2012, Nevarez once again sought medical care. According to records he appears to have fainted and gotten a cut above his eye when he fell.</p><p>He told doctors his head hurt and he couldn&rsquo;t remember things. A doctor at the facility seems to have decided Nevarez was lying in an attempt to get drugs. The way it&rsquo;s recorded in the medical record is: &ldquo;appears to be med seeking.&rdquo;</p><p>Nevarez was sent back to his cell. He fell into a coma. A CT scan of his head was taken and it showed he had two large, dense brain tumors and swelling in his brain. He died that day at the age of 31.</p><p>The autopsy states, &ldquo;Given the lack of follow up care and systemic chemotherapy for this patient, in combination with with the poor prognosis in general for such a tumor, it is not surprising that he developed widespread metastases a year after diagnosis.&rdquo;</p><p>In the death review the department handed over to WBEZ, where it asks, &lsquo;Was an earlier intervention possible?&rsquo; the answer is redacted. On the non-redacted version given to the family, it says the cancer diagnosis could have been made sooner, though it says it was, &ldquo;probably too late for significant intervention.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 24.44444465637207px; line-height: 22px;">Seeing a doctor &#39;can take months&#39;</span></p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a symptom of an overloaded system that it takes forever to get over to a doctor,&rdquo; said Alan Mills, an attorney specializing in prison litigation. &ldquo;And then once you&rsquo;re there you don&rsquo;t see the doctor right away, you go through two or three screening processes before you finally get to see a doctor. So that can take months.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;There are red flags all over the place,&rdquo; said Mills. &ldquo;But without the details, you have to get beyond just saying, &lsquo;well this person died too soon.&rsquo; You don&rsquo;t know that unless a doctor looks at the medical records and says, &lsquo;no this test was done or this test wasn&rsquo;t done, this is what the follow should have been and it wasn&rsquo;t.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>That work is now being done by a doctor appointed by a federal judge as part of the class action suit Mills filed over health care.</p><p>The State of Illinois pays a company called Wexford Health Sources more than $100 million a year to provide health care in the prisons. Wexford did not return repeated calls for comment over the last two weeks. That&rsquo;s just the most recent refusal&mdash;WBEZ has had an ongoing request for an interview with the company for almost two years.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Screen%20Shot%202014-07-10%20at%2012.16.06%20AM.png" style="width: 620px;" title="Attorney Alan Mills says a review of health care in the Illinois Department of Corrections by outside medical experts will answer a lot of questions. (WBEZ/Robert Wildeboer)" /></div><p>Attorney Alan Mills has studied the contract between Wexford and the state.</p><p>&ldquo;Wexford gets paid the same amount whether they provide a lot of care or a little care, so therefore, every time they provide care their stockholders lose money. So that is a fine model, but you have to have some control to make sure that they&rsquo;re actually providing the care that you&rsquo;re contracted to giving them. Nobody in the state of Illinois regularly audits the Wexford contract, either financially, or more importantly, a health audit to see what the outcomes are that we&rsquo;re getting,&rdquo; said Mills.</p><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 24.44444465637207px; line-height: 22px;">IDOC won&#39;t discuss Mills</span></p><p>Illinois Department of Corrections spokesman Tom Shaer won&rsquo;t discuss issues raised by Mills. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m not going to discuss anything that Alan Mills says because Alan Mills has been proven to state things that are false, so I&rsquo;m going to respectfully decline to include any information coming from Alan Mills in this interview. Anybody else you want to talk about, fine, not him,&rdquo; said Shaer.</p><p>The medical director who oversees more than $100 million Illinois pays Wexford for medical care refused to speak to WBEZ.</p><p>WBEZ asked Gov. Pat Quinn&rsquo;s office about the medical director&rsquo;s refusal to discuss medical care. After an initial conversation the governor&rsquo;s office simply ignored follow-up calls and emails from WBEZ.</p><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 24.44444465637207px; line-height: 22px;">Illinois prisons have low death rates compared to other prisons</span></p><p>Shaer says focussing on just a few cases does not give an accurate picture of health care in the department. He points to Bureau of Justice statistics showing Illinois&rsquo; prison system has one of the lowest death rates in the country compared to other prison systems.</p><p>&ldquo;We have pretty high standards here. We do the best we can within our ability to monitor that and if we felt that our ability wasn&rsquo;t adequate, we would find a way to address that,&rdquo; said Shaer.</p><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 24.44444465637207px; line-height: 22px;">Independent experts should provide some answers soon</span></p><p>&ldquo;I see enough things that tell me there are really some warning signs here. I mean there are problems,&rdquo; said State Rep. Greg Harris.</p><p>Harris held committee hearings last year to dig into allegations of poor care.</p><p>&ldquo;You know in the testimony, in the contacts from individual families, in the lawsuits that have been settled and paid by the state for deaths that should have been preventable, I know there are things that we should have done that we did not do and that there are probably things that we ought to be doing better now,&rdquo; said Harris.</p><p>As a result of the hearings, Harris concluded that no one in Illinois is paying close attention to the $100 million the state pays Wexford every year. Harris brought in the National Commission on Correctional Health Care to audit health care, both the finances, and the health outcomes.</p><p>He says independent experts who know how to evaluate health care in a prison setting are looking at the system and should provide some answers soon. That audit is in addition to a federal court monitor who is also evaluating Illinois&rsquo; prison health care system in response to complaints.</p></p> Thu, 10 Jul 2014 00:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/prison-health-care-worker-finds-request-medical-care-after-inmate-dies-110470 Illinois inmate dies 3 hours after seeking medical care http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-inmate-dies-3-hours-after-seeking-medical-care-110460 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Screen Shot 2014-07-09 at 6.17.11 AM.png" alt="" /><p><p>Keith Dean has a manila envelope that causes him a lot of grief and regret, but he can&rsquo;t throw it out. On his front porch, by the light of a single lamp next to his front door on a quiet street in Gary, Indiana, he turns the envelope over in his hand.</p><p>&ldquo;I always looked at this envelope on the outside when I&rsquo;m going through my office trying to organize, throw away stuff I don&rsquo;t need but I never threw this away. I just kept it in a file,&rdquo; said Dean.</p><p>But Dean hasn&rsquo;t looked at the envelope for a couple years and can&rsquo;t actually remember what&rsquo;s in it. He knows it was some medical stuff from his brother in prison but when he opens the envelope he is surprised to find a letter from his brother as well. He pulls it out and reads from it to me.</p><p>&ldquo;&lsquo;This doctor has endangered my life by failing to provide me with the proper follow ups and examinations. I need to get out of this facility before something happens to me, man.&rsquo;&nbsp; That was dated February the 5th, 2011. Almost a month later, he passed away,&rdquo; Dean said with his eyes downcast.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">What are families supposed to do?</span></p><p>Kevin Dean was 49 when he died. Keith Dean says his brother used to complain all the time that he needed medical care and the prison wasn&rsquo;t giving it to him. Once Keith called the prison and was told that his brother was receiving proper care. Beyond that he wasn&rsquo;t sure what he was supposed to do. He still doesn&rsquo;t know.</p><p>&ldquo;He was sending me this to show me that definitely, there&rsquo;s something wrong, and they&rsquo;re not taking the proper steps as far as his medical care and I just didn&rsquo;t, I didn&rsquo;t know it was as bad as it was,&rdquo; said Dean. &ldquo;I just didn&rsquo;t believe it. I figured you&rsquo;ll be alright, you&rsquo;ll be okay and I have to live with that. I just wished I had a paid attention, man.&rdquo;</p><blockquote><p><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/natural-causes-death-illinois-prisons-110455" target="_blank">Man who died in prison of prostate cancer showed symptoms 14 years before death</a></strong></p></blockquote><p><span style="font-size:24px;">IDOC: Care is &#39;adequate&#39;</span></p><p>&ldquo;We do our job constitutionally and legally. Is it the best health care in the world? No, but it is adequate and that&rsquo;s our job,&rdquo; said Illinois Department of Corrections spokesman Tom Shaer in a recent interview at the State of Illinois building in Chicago&rsquo;s Loop.</p><p>Between 80 and 100 people die behind bars in Illinois every year. The average age of the people who die is 54. The Department of Corrections says it carefully reviews every death, but information on deaths provided to WBEZ was scattershot and incomplete.</p><p>WBEZ has been reviewing IDOC records regarding deaths in custody in 2011 and 2012 and we&rsquo;ve found some cases that seem especially egregious.</p><p>For example, according to an incident report by a nurse at the Vandalia prison, on October 2, 2011 an inmate named Anthony Rencher went to the health care unit at 2 a.m.</p><p>In her report the nurse notes Rencher was complaining that he didn&rsquo;t feel well and couldn&rsquo;t walk. The nurse then wrote, &ldquo;but he could walk.&rdquo; I go over the nurse&rsquo;s report with IDOC spokesman Tom Shaer. Here&rsquo;s our exchange:</p><p>&ldquo;She says no abnormal findings,&quot; I said. &quot;She says she observes him in the waiting room for an hour. At 3 a.m. he requests to go back to his cell. To me that make very eminent sense. He goes for medical care, he doesn&rsquo;t get any, there&rsquo;s no tests run, there&rsquo;s nothing being done&hellip;&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Let me ask you this right now,&rdquo; Shaer said.</p><p>&ldquo;Well, let me finish,&rdquo; I said.</p><p>&ldquo;No let me finish,&quot; Shaer said. &quot;So you just decided that the reason he asked to go back to his cell is that he didn&rsquo;t get the treatment, rather than he may have been feeling okay. How do you know why he made that decision? You just presumed that he decided that because he didn&rsquo;t get the care he sought so that&rsquo;s why he went back to his cell. How do you know he didn&rsquo;t decide to go back because he no longer had symptoms?&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Because he died two and a half hours later,&rdquo; I said.</p><p>&ldquo;Okay,&quot; Shaer asked. &quot;How do you know that he had symptoms at the time, two and a half hours before his death?&rdquo;</p><p>According to the report, after sitting in the waiting room in the prison&rsquo;s health care unit for an hour at three in the morning, Rencher returned to his cell where he died. Shaer says unfortunately many of us know people who die unexpectedly without any warning signs.</p><p>&ldquo;To say that he went there and got no treatment is inaccurate. That&rsquo;s just not accurate,&rdquo; said Shaer. &ldquo;If he&rsquo;s in the healthcare unit being seen by a medical professional he is getting treatment and this inmate did.&rdquo;</p><p>To be clear, Shaer is a press spokesman, not a doctor. Dr. Louis Shicker, the medical director of Illinois&rsquo; Department of Corrections, refused to talk with us about the $100 million in medical care he oversees.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">IDOC: Documentation is difficult</span></p><p>Two years ago, after hearing complaints about health care, WBEZ submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for incident reports for all inmate deaths in the Department of Corrections. The department denied the FOIA, and fought it through an appeal to the attorney general of Illinois, saying it would be too burdensome. They said it would take months to collect the information because it&rsquo;s kept at all the different prisons around the state.</p><p>When WBEZ threatened to sue, the department did finally hand over documents, but the records were incomplete to say the least, and did not even reflect all the deaths that occurred. For example, the department says 97 inmates died in 2011 but the records handed over to WBEZ as part of a legal proceeding stretching out over the course of a year reflect only 79 deaths, omitting 18.</p><p>&ldquo;Eighteen out of 97, we don&rsquo;t feel, is indicative of a major problem with getting you the information you&rsquo;re entitled to. But I would say anything less than a hundred percent is not satisfactory. There are different levels of being unsatisfactory. This is a moderate level of dissatisfaction that we have and we&rsquo;re looking into it but I can&rsquo;t tell you why you asked for 97 and got 79,&rdquo; said Shaer.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">ACLU: Don&#39;t count on IDOC stats</span></p><p>&ldquo;If you say you look at every death and analyze what happened and how to fix it, that should be readily available and if it&rsquo;s not, what does that tell you?&rdquo; said Benjamin Wolf, the associate legal director of the ACLU of Illinois.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;I also don&rsquo;t think any of the department&rsquo;s statistics are ones that I would count on as being accurate,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>The ACLU is one of the parties in a federal class action lawsuit over health care in prison.</p><p>&ldquo;When we decide whether to jump into a major class action we want to make sure it&rsquo;s a good commitment of our limited resources, including our limited staff, and this problem emerged as one of the most serious civil liberties problems in this state,&rdquo; said Wolf.</p><p>Wolf says before deciding to join the health care case the ACLU did some research. They hired experts in correctional health care to go through lots of records and policies and data.</p><p>&quot;It looked to them like there were very serious problems and very serious deficiencies including some deficiencies that may have caused people to die,&rdquo; Wolf said.</p><p>As part of the class action suit, the court has now appointed an expert who is doing a review of health care inside Illinois prisons. It means an independent doctor has access to all the medical records and death reviews and is going into the facilities as well.</p><p>&ldquo;I think we&rsquo;re going to learn that the department&rsquo;s excuses for these things and defenses for a lot of these things are not persuasive and that their system is in fact deeply flawed and dangerous to the inmates,&rdquo; said Wolf.</p><p>Wolf says, when the expert report becomes public, Illinois citizens will have a much more accurate picture of health care inside Illinois prisons.</p></p> Wed, 09 Jul 2014 06:14:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-inmate-dies-3-hours-after-seeking-medical-care-110460 Of natural causes: Death in Illinois prisons http://www.wbez.org/news/natural-causes-death-illinois-prisons-110455 <p><p dir="ltr"><em>Updated 11:45 a.m. July 9, 2014</em></p><p dir="ltr">When Doris Green married an inmate in prison, she knew it was kind of weird, and yet for her it was also normal. As a prison chaplain the Rev. Green says she performed more than 20 weddings between inmates and women on the outside.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;No one else wanted to bring people together like that because it&rsquo;s something wrong with that because they&rsquo;re criminals,&rdquo; Green said in a recent interview at an office on Chicago&rsquo;s South Side where she runs a prison ministry program. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m like, &lsquo;aw, c&rsquo;mon now.&rsquo; They wanted me to do it because none of their chaplains wanted to, so I didn&rsquo;t care. I loved it. I loved counselling with them and preparing for their wedding and making sure their families got there and I did all that. Sure did.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Green says she eventually fell in love with and decided to marry Michael Smith, inmate N40598.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It&rsquo;s my time, and I&rsquo;m gonna do this and here&rsquo;s your volunteer ID. Take it back,&rdquo; Green said.</p><p dir="ltr">She says she knows it was a little scandalous.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It is. I&rsquo;m so bad and I&rsquo;m a minister too. I&rsquo;m so bad you know, but whatever. Who tells who, who to love?&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">When Green gave up her work as a prison chaplain she stayed involved in prison issues. She&rsquo;s currently the director of correctional health and community affairs for the Aids Foundation of Chicago. She helps connect inmates leaving prison with health care on the outside. Because of her job she knows health care workers in the Department of Corrections. But that didn&rsquo;t make much difference when her husband got sick.</p><p dir="ltr">On May 19, 2011, Smith died of prostate cancer. Green pulls out a medical record that she keeps protected in plastic. &ldquo;PSA was 7.6, high, they put in parenthesis &lsquo;high,&rsquo; and look at the date on here.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">The date is December of 1997. Fourteen years before he died of prostate cancer a prison medical record shows he had a high PSA, which is an indicator of prostate cancer. The record says &ldquo;needs follow up,&rdquo; but Green says 14 years later her husband died from prostate cancer that hadn&rsquo;t been treated.</p><p dir="ltr">Between 80 and 100 people die each year inside Illinois prisons. WBEZ has sought information about those deaths, but the Department of Corrections under Gov. Pat Quinn is taking a &ldquo;trust us, nothing to see here&rdquo; attitude. However, persistent and disturbing complaints from inmates and their families make it hard to just move along.</p><p dir="ltr"><span style="font-size:24px;">Symptoms too obvious to ignore </span></p><p dir="ltr">Green says in 2011 her husband was getting up to urinate five times a night and was in extreme pain. That followed a decade of complaints of back pain, noted in the medical record. Green pushed the prison system to get him to a doctor at an outside hospital.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;So when the urologist tested him, really gave him the biopsy, it was Stage 4 prostate cancer and bone cancer in his back,&rdquo; she said.</p><p dir="ltr">The treating physician says at that point the PSA level had risen from 7.6 in 1997 to 250.6. &nbsp;He says he then prescribed an anti-hormonal injection, but that the Department of Corrections must never have given Smith that injection because the next time he saw Smith the PSA level was 892. He says the cancer should have been diagnosed much earlier.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I know everybody,&rdquo; said Green. &ldquo;I got them on speed dial, the director, all of them. I work with them and help people make sure they have health care. I couldn&rsquo;t get it for my own husband. I could get, I could talk to the people but I couldn&rsquo;t get the people, as the wife, I couldn&rsquo;t get the people to respond to the urgency of my husband&rsquo;s condition.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Green says she didn&rsquo;t find out about that 1997 test with the high PSA level until after her husband&rsquo;s death.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img a="" alt="" and="" any="" at="" before="" care="" class="image-original_image" custody="" dramatically="" entering="" had="" have="" health="" hepatitis="" higher="" hiv="" idoc="" inmates="" issues="" many="" national="" not="" of="" or="" other="" percentage="" received="" regular="" serious="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/deathage.png" style="height: 196px; width: 500px;" than="" the="" title="*Source: WBEZ review of Illinois state prison death records for 2011 and 2012. **Source: Center for Disease Control, 2011. According to IDOC spokesman Tom Shaer: &quot;The 'young people' entering IDOC custody have a percentage of Hepatitis C, HIV and other serious health issues dramatically higher than the 'national average' and many inmates with serious health issues had not received regular health care (or any at all) before entering IDOC.&quot;" with="" young="" /></div></div></div></div><p dir="ltr"><span style="font-size:24px;">Spouse kept in the dark</span></p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We couldn&rsquo;t do anything about something we didn&rsquo;t know,&quot; Green said. &quot;And when I say that, I ran across that one page after I got his medical records sent to me. That&rsquo;s when I seen the medical that he&rsquo;d had that prostate cancer, prostate test way back then. These people knew what was happening in my husband&rsquo;s body and just didn&rsquo;t tell him and didn&rsquo;t tell me! They knew he was suffering! It&rsquo;s all in here!&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">While pushing for medical care for her husband Green says she&rsquo;d also been asking the governor&rsquo;s office for compassionate release so her husband could die at home, but that didn&rsquo;t happen. She says he died in his cell.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;And that same day he died I got a call from the governor&rsquo;s office asking to meet with me about Michael Smith,&quot; Green said. &quot;And the receptionist that called me was so, I can feel it in her voice. I felt that I wanted to comfort her in some way. I told her, I said, he just died. And she said, I&rsquo;m so sorry. C&rsquo;mon. Too much. Too late. Too much. It&rsquo;s too late but it&rsquo;s not too late for those that are in there.&quot;</p><p dir="ltr"><span style="font-size:24px;">IDOC: Green&#39;s claims &#39;false&#39;</span></p><p dir="ltr">The Illinois Department of Corrections strongly disputes Green&rsquo;s version of events. IDOC spokesman Tom Shaer says privacy laws prevent him from defending the department&rsquo;s track record in the case of Green&rsquo;s husband, but, &ldquo;I can tell you that the claims made by the third party in this case, Ms. Green, are filled with false statements covering the time from inmate Smith&rsquo;s diagnosis in 1997 and his death 14 years later, after I believe, I&rsquo;m not sure, she married him while he was in prison. There are many false statements covering that time. I wish I could get into further specifics but I can&rsquo;t do that. She evidently can. We legally cannot,&rdquo; he said.</p><p dir="ltr"><span style="font-size:24px;">Medical director won&#39;t discuss care</span></p><p dir="ltr">The medical director for the Department of Corrections refused to discuss medical care, even in general terms, with WBEZ because of pending litigation. But there are always lawsuits pending. In fact, according to Shaer, there are 4,600 lawsuits against the Department of Corrections right now. Nonetheless, Shaer says citizens should be confident in the health care inside prisons.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Things happen in health system,&rdquo; said Shaer. &ldquo;If they happen here, when we investigate we find them and we take whatever action is appropriate. I&rsquo;m not saying that there was any such action appropriate in this individual&rsquo;s case, or any particular case. I am telling you that we do the same thing as hospitals do. We review our performance of our staff, our vendors and we take action when appropriate.&rdquo;</p><p>According to Bureau of Justice statistics, Illinois has one of the lowest inmate death rates in the country. Shaer says that&rsquo;s proof that Illinois is providing good care.</p><p>&ldquo;The total number of deaths, the overall issue with people dying in Illinois prisons is absolutely a non-story,&rdquo; said Shaer.</p><p><em>Reporting on deaths in Illinois prisons will continue throughout the week.</em></p><p><em>Patrick Smith contributed to this report. </em></p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img a="" alt="" and="" any="" at="" before="" care="" class="image-original_image" custody="" dramatically="" entering="" had="" have="" health="" hepatitis="" higher="" hiv="" idoc="" inmates="" issues="" many="" national="" not="" of="" or="" other="" percentage="" received="" regular="" serious="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/image (4).png" style="height: 487px; width: 620px;" than="" the="" title="*Source: WBEZ review of Illinois state prison death records for 2011 and 2012. **Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics report on mortality in local jails and state prisons, 2011. According to IDOC spokesman Tom Shaer: &quot;The 'young people' entering IDOC custody have a percentage of Hepatitis C, HIV and other serious health issues dramatically higher than the 'national average' and many inmates with serious health issues had not received regular health care (or any at all) before entering IDOC.&quot;" with="" young="" /></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 07 Jul 2014 23:24:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/natural-causes-death-illinois-prisons-110455 Exoneree Diaries: Jacques mentors in Cook County juvenile detention http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/exoneree-diaries-jacques-mentors-cook-county-juvenile-detention-110452 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/jaques_0_0_0_0_3.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>&ldquo;Growing up in Humboldt Park, especially back in them days, back then as now, gang recruitment was so easy. The gangs would drive on kids like me. They knew my father had passed away. We lived in the neighborhood. My mom didn&rsquo;t have money, so once my dad passed, they latched on to me. &lsquo;We&rsquo;ll take care of you. We&rsquo;ll be your family.&rsquo; Kids were vulnerable.&rdquo;</em></p><p>Jacques arrived to the security area of the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center on a Saturday afternoon wearing gray-on-gray sweatpants and short sleeves. This and other track suits were his usual garb when he wasn&rsquo;t suited in a delivery work uniform or free Northwestern University swag.</p><p>For a few months, he had been mentoring young boys &ndash; some young men &ndash; in juvenile detention. The kids were waiting to appear in court.</p><p>Jacques joined a team of three other mentors, some with rough pasts of their own. Together, they would visit kids from one unit at the detention center.</p><p>Clearing security took about 45 minutes after a mix-up over visitation dates. As they waited, Jacques told the other guys about his new ride, fresh bullet-holes and all.</p><p>&ldquo;What!?&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s what you get for buying a new car!&rdquo; the group leader, laughed.</p><p>&ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t want to get a new car without a garage,&rdquo; Jacques told them, shaking his head.</p><p>Security officers filtered through their program supplies piece by piece.</p><p>&ldquo;What&rsquo;s the blanket for?&rdquo; one officer asked.</p><p>&ldquo;To bring them the comforts of home!&rdquo; Jacques jested, turning his head so the officer couldn&rsquo;t hear him.</p><p>In fact, the small quilted baby blanket would be put in the center of the group as they discussed a theme in a circle. Nothing they talked about was meant to leave the circle of trust. They taught the boys to respect this code.</p><p>Huddled in the security area, the mentors went over the game plan for the day. The theme of the day would be domestic violence, focusing on treatment of women and children. In the past, they had covered values, gangs and race. They often talked about doing the time and celebrating a second chance.</p><p>Jacques and the mentors signed in, went through the metal detector and headed over to the unit of about 16 boys they&rsquo;d be working with that day. The hallways looked more like a middle school than a detention center. Inspirational quotes and pictures adorned the walls.</p><p>Inside the dim, brick-walled meeting room, the boys sat on plastic chairs in rows facing the front of the room supervised by three security guards. They all wore long-sleeved navy blue &ldquo;JTDC&rdquo; shirts and gray pants with rubber shoes.</p><p>They seemed full of energy, ready to burst. Their unit had a month of peace &ndash; no fights &ndash; and the boys found out they would be rewarded with a party and food catered from the outside.</p><p>One of the mentors asked the kids to help set up the room, and they all stopped in their tracks to arrange the chairs in a circle.</p><p>A ball bounced in sight, and soon the group was running and playing an icebreaker game of &ldquo;Presidents and Assassins,&rdquo; a variation of dodge ball.</p><p>&ldquo;Move the ball! Move the ball!&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Y&rsquo;all gotta jump for it! Make it easy.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Spread out!&rdquo; Jacques shouted, getting in the game. &ldquo;Gotta take a shot sometime!&rdquo;</p><p>The kids hurried to corner Jacques and eliminate him from the game. Out of breath and beaming, he took a seat at the side of the room by the group leader who was preparing materials.</p><p>After the game, the boys circled up and were invited to share the latest &ldquo;rose and thorn&rdquo; stories in their lives, the high points and low points, passing a secret object for each to hold when it was his turn to speak.</p><p>The mentors handed out Bic pens and sheets of song lyrics. At key moments in the discussion, they took the opportunity to reflect on the theme of the day by playing popular songs. The kids underlined the words that spoke to them, moving to the beat. Jacques tapped his foot.</p><p>He shared his own story, flashbacks, snippets of pain and regrets. The boys raised their eyebrows and looked at each other as Jacques spoke. He was both a cautionary tale and a source of inspiration. His past was familiar to them &ndash; a future they didn&rsquo;t want. But he was proof that it was possible to start over.</p><p>In the lobby area after the session concluded, the leaders gathered their personal belongings from the lockers. They huddled once more and went over what went well, who was engaged and what they could have done better. For next time.</p><p>They scanned through the program curriculum and realized they hadn&rsquo;t managed to hit all the points because they allowed more time for the kids to talk about their wishes for the future.</p><p>Freedom. Beating their case. Going home. Taking care of their families. Moving out of the country and living happily ever after. Disappearing. Leaving the hood. Stopping the violence.</p></p> Mon, 07 Jul 2014 09:42:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/exoneree-diaries-jacques-mentors-cook-county-juvenile-detention-110452 Exoneree Diaries: How Jarrett Adams rebuilt his life after prison http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/exoneree-diaries-how-jarrett-adams-rebuilt-his-life-after-prison-110381 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/antione_0_0_0.png" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>&quot;After all the lights and the cameras has shut down, life begins. It kicks in in a very neutral position because you don&rsquo;t know which way to go, what to do or how to get it done. Exonerees have no services that they qualify for. They have no reentry programs that they qualify for. &hellip;The reentry programs are designed to help guys once they return from prison, but exonerees don&rsquo;t have that opportunity.&quot;</em></p><p><strong>ANTIONE KEPT RUNNING INTO JARRETT ADAMS</strong>, a young Wisconsin exoneree who was from Chicago, at events coordinated by Loyola University&rsquo;s Life After Innocence program. About 20 years Antione&rsquo;s junior, Jarrett had only been out of prison for a handful of years.</p><p>Like Antione, a wrongful conviction robbed him of his youth. In September 1998 Jarrett was two months shy of 18 when he and two friends traveled from Chicago to Wisconsin to attend a party. The three teens returned with a false accusation of rape. The racially-charged case resulted in Jarrett&rsquo;s conviction in 2000, and it carried a 28-year prison sentence. With the help of the University of Wisconsin&rsquo;s Innocence Project, Jarrett was exonerated seven years later on evidence that his state-appointed attorney failed to investigate and secure witnesses who<br />could have cleared him.</p><p>&ldquo;You sit, hope and wish for the day to come and when it finally gets here. You&rsquo;re so exhausted that you really want to just move on,&rdquo; Jarrett remembers.</p><p>He walked back into the world without any living, medical or financial assistance from the state of Wisconsin. He wore a jogging suit purchased from the commissary and orange shoes provided by the jail. He had $30 left on his account &ndash; and was later charged $16 for the rubber-soled canvas shoes.</p><p>Jarrett slept on a couch at his mother and stepfather&rsquo;s place. They were both seniors living on fixed incomes. With a nearly 10-year gap in his resume, and his last known address being a super-max, Jarrett couldn&rsquo;t find work.</p><p>&ldquo;The news of my conviction and it being overturned was a click of a button away on Google,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>Jarrett turned to academics, attending junior college and later enrolling at Roosevelt University, where he graduated with honors. He landed a job working as a full-time federal defense investigator. Next came law school at Loyola, where Jarrett quickly became the face of various media and outreach efforts &ndash; his story played to the school&rsquo;s mission.</p><p>&ldquo;Everyone is talking about &lsquo;Wow, he&rsquo;s in law school &ndash; this is great!&rsquo;&rdquo; Jarrett says. &ldquo;But no one really knows that I&rsquo;m still paying on debts that were incurred as a result of being locked up and wrongfully convicted.&rdquo;</p><p>In Wisconsin, the compensation statute for exonerees is one of the weakest in the country, offering up to $25,000 to those who can prove that they didn&rsquo;t bring about their own wrongful conviction. Jarrett received nothing.</p><p>&ldquo;All the charges were dismissed, and so now you&rsquo;re asking me to come back around and prove that I was absolutely innocent? That was a standard that it didn&rsquo;t even take for me to be found guilty!&rdquo;</p><p>Prior to becoming a student at Loyola, Jarrett crossed paths with Laura Caldwell, executive director of Life After Innocence, who had worked on Antione&rsquo;s certificate of innocence petition, helping to clear his name. She introduced the pair.</p><p>It wasn&rsquo;t until an Innocence Network conference, in a hotel lobby in the company of another exoneree, that Antione and Jarrett shared their stories of release from prison, struggling to find work and sleeping on their mothers&rsquo; couches. They both knew of other exonerees who didn&rsquo;t even have that much. They knew guys who were sleeping in drug houses or signing contracts with family members to give up some of their future compensation (if any) for a roof over their head.</p><p>Antione told Jarrett about his idea, the one he had shared with his mother before she passed, to create a home for exonerees where they could escape the pressures of the real world. Jarrett thought they could also provide resources to help these exonerees reenter society. No such state-funded programs exist in Illinois for exonerees upon release.</p><p>&ldquo;We found it to be therapeutic to share our stories with each other,&rdquo; Jarrett says. &ldquo;And it gave birth to the idea of Life After Justice [their non-profit organization] and preventing our struggles from becoming everyone else&rsquo;s.&rdquo;</p></p> Thu, 19 Jun 2014 17:05:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/exoneree-diaries-how-jarrett-adams-rebuilt-his-life-after-prison-110381 New vigor in Chicago for the war on drugs http://www.wbez.org/news/new-vigor-chicago-war-drugs-110343 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Heroin Operation map.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Drug enforcement officials are singing an old tune with renewed vigor as they fight the war on drugs.</p><p>&ldquo;Hey, it&rsquo;s another great day for the good guys in Chicago,&rdquo; said Jack Riley, standing at a podium surrounded by federal and local officials Thursday.</p><p>He was announcing the arrest of 27 people in connection with a heroin operation on Chicago&rsquo;s West Side.</p><p>Authorities say the heroin ring operated in a 12-block area just off the Eisenhower expressway near Douglas Park.</p><p>It&rsquo;s a popular location for kids from the western suburbs because they can buy heroin and then hop back on the highway.</p><blockquote><p><strong>Related: <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/heroin-moves-chicago-suburbs-small-amounts-through-users-109326">How heroin moves to Chicago&#39;s suburbs</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>Riley says a new strike force with federal and local authorities sharing information gives him hope that they can make some headway in the decades old war on drugs.</p><p>&ldquo;And to the bad guys out there, hey, we&rsquo;re coming,&rdquo; said Riley. &ldquo;This is a marathon, not a sprint, we&rsquo;re in it for the long haul. We&rsquo;re gonna continue this fight, we&rsquo;re not going to let anybody down and it really makes a difference in the communities when we do things like this.&rdquo;</p><p>Chicago police say they&rsquo;ll continue to do undercover buys in the 12-block area even though many of the dealers in that area were arrested this week.</p><p>Al Wysinger is the first deputy superintendent of the Chicago Police Department and the top guy while Superintendent Garry McCarthy is on medical leave recovering from his heart attack.</p><p>He said they&rsquo;ll now saturate the area with officers and continue to make undercover drug buys, &ldquo;to ensure that,&nbsp; A, this gang doesn&rsquo;t come back and try to take over and B, that a new gang doesn&rsquo;t come in and try to take over and they try to start a turf war over this very same territory.&rdquo;</p><p>U.S. attorney Zach Fardon says no one in this case is charged with violence but he says these arrests are an important tool for reducing violence in Chicago.</p><p>He says shutting down this drug operation is going to improve life for the people living in the neighborhood.</p></p> Fri, 13 Jun 2014 11:52:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/new-vigor-chicago-war-drugs-110343 Illinois Rep. Derrick Smith convicted of bribery http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-rep-derrick-smith-convicted-bribery-110313 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP362609502394.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A federal jury in Chicago on Tuesday convicted Illinois state Rep. Derrick Smith of bribery for taking $7,000 from a purported day care operator seeking a state grant.</p><p>In a weeklong trial, prosecutors played secret recordings of the 50-year-old Chicago Democrat accepting 70 $100 bills in exchange for a letter supporting the $50,000 state grant &mdash; though it was all part of an FBI sting.</p><p>Jurors returned their verdict after deliberating about four hours over two days. Smith showed no emotion as he learned his fate, sitting with his hands folded. A family member patted him on the shoulder minutes later.</p><p>Outside court, a subdued Smith told reporters: &quot;We gave it a good fight. God knows the truth. Jurors didn&#39;t see what God saw.&quot;</p><p>No sentencing date was set, but a status hearing was set for Sept. 23. Smith was released pending a sentencing date.</p><p>The recordings of Smith by a campaign worker-turned-informant included one where Smith uses slang talking about the handover of the bribe, asking, &quot;How she going to get the cheddar to us?&quot; In another he says, &quot;I don&#39;t want no trace of it.&quot;</p><p>Prosecutors also described how a distraught Smith admitted after his March 13, 2012, arrest he took the bribe. He even brought agents to his bedroom, retrieved $2,500 in leftover bribe cash from the foot of his bed and handed it over.</p><p>Shortly after Smith&#39;s arrest, his House colleagues voted 100-6 to expel him. But he was reinstated after winning his late-2012 election. He lost his 2014 primary and was supposed to finish out his current term. However, a felony conviction means he will lose his seat.</p><p>Jurors found Smith guilty on all charges &mdash; one count of bribery and one of attempted extortion. Combined, the convictions carry a maximum 30-year prison sentence.</p><p>At trial, the defense attacked the credibility of the informant, who was only referred to by his first name, Pete, in court. They described him as a deadbeat and convicted felon who &quot;set up&quot; Smith for $1,000-a-week payments from the FBI.</p><p>&quot;He&#39;s a hustler,&quot; defense attorney Victor Henderson told jurors during closing arguments Monday. &quot;He hustled the representative and he hustled the FBI.&quot;</p><p>The attorney argued that Pete hoodwinked a devoted public servant together with an overzealous FBI.</p><p>&quot;He wasn&#39;t going to commit a crime,&quot; Henderson said, pointing to Smith. &quot;That was something they fabricated.&quot;</p><p>But prosecutor Marsha McClellan said in her closing that the recordings and other evidence demonstrated that no one led Smith astray against his will.</p><p>&quot;There sits a defendant whose public face is one of service, but who privately wanted to use that office ... to get cash into his pockets,&quot; she said.</p><p>In a recording from early March 2012, Pete counts aloud as he hands the cash to Smith in seven $1,000 stacks. As the informant counts the fifth stack, he curses as the money sticks together. He pauses, then counts the rest.</p><p>Pete then jokingly chides Smith for not expressing gratitude, saying, &quot;(You) didn&#39;t even say thank you.&quot;</p><p>The prosecutor said that Smith&#39;s easy, confident tone on the recordings illustrated he didn&#39;t think he&#39;d ever get caught.</p><p>&quot;Never in a million years did he expect us to listen to him now,&quot; McClellan told jurors. &quot;He never thought this day would come.&quot;</p></p> Tue, 10 Jun 2014 11:56:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-rep-derrick-smith-convicted-bribery-110313 Illinois counting on Cook County program to fix juvenile parole http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-counting-cook-county-program-fix-juvenile-parole-110308 <p><p>Almost nine out of every 10 kids who spend time in Illinois youth prisons end up going back to prison within three years of their release.</p><p>That high number - 86 percent, according to a report the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice prepared for the federal government last year - costs the state millions of dollars every year. And it&rsquo;s a factor in the violence perpetrated and suffered by young people in Chicago every summer.</p><p>Everybody involved agrees that a key solution is getting these kids a special kind of help so they can stay out of prison. Something more than parole like adults get.</p><p>The state of Illinois is counting on a small pilot program in Cook County to lead the way in fixing juvenile parole.</p><p>The program is called Aftercare. The name gives an idea of all that&rsquo;s intended: counseling, help with school and getting off drugs.</p><p>Officials are rushing to expand the Aftercare pilot statewide. But after three years running, there&rsquo;s no evidence the Cook County pilot is working.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="200" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" src="http://cf.datawrapper.de/sMEkZ/1/" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="610"></iframe></div><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/aftercare.png" style="height: 484px; width: 320px; float: right;" title="This map shows the 10 counties across Illinois with the highest number of juvenile parolees who are sent back to prison. " /></div><p><span style="font-size: 22px;">&#39;He&#39;s a pretty good kid he just needs some support&#39;</span></p><p>Adam is a 16-year-old kid who lives with his mom and four younger siblings in K-Town, a rough section of Chicago&rsquo;s West Side.</p><p>Last March he was sent to the youth prison in St. Charles, Illinois on a gun charge. He got out in November, then was sent back briefly for a parole violation. When I first met him in March of this year he had been out for two months, was going to school and passing his drug tests.</p><p>He and his mom, Debra Wright, say for Adam that is a very big deal. And Adam thinks he can keep it up.</p><p>Adam is one of the kids on Aftercare, and that means instead of a parole officer he gets an aftercare specialist.</p><p>Like a regular parole officer,&nbsp; the specialist&rsquo;s job is to make sure Adam is doing what he&rsquo;s supposed to do, and staying out of trouble. But the specialist is also responsible for helping him do that: finding drug counseling to keep him from smoking weed; helping him get to school and constantly checking up on him&mdash;at least once a week.</p><p>Adam says he feels like he has two moms, his aftercare specialist and his parent.</p><p>Debra Wright is glad there is someone else around to keep Adam in line.</p><p>&ldquo;She&rsquo;s a good role model and she&rsquo;s not trying to be hard on him and send him back. Because you get a lot of - excuse my french - dickheads as parole officers,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Adam is a good example of the challenging kids that the Aftercare program is trying to reach.</p><p>He has a long history of trouble with the law. Adam says he got sent to solitary confinement 15 times as punishment in the nine months he was inside. And he once spent four days in solitary for punching a guard in the face.</p><p>Besides his Aftercare specialist, Adam also gets support from Edwin Day, a youth and family advocate for the non-profit Youth Outreach Services. Day and a handful of others work with about 30 Aftercare kids who live on the West Side of Chicago.</p><p>Adam&rsquo;s Aftercare specialist is supposed to identify the kinds of help he needs, and then Day uses his community connections to help get it for Adam.</p><p>Day says Adam can be a handful at times, &ldquo;but he&rsquo;s a pretty good kid &hellip; he just needs some support.&rdquo;</p><p>And Day is a crucial part of that support. While the Aftercare specialists have more than 40 kids on their caseloads - almost twice the number they&rsquo;re supposed to have - advocates like Day have about seven.</p><p>The Youth Outreach program isn&rsquo;t expanding along with Aftercare, so most of the state workers on the front lines will be trying to reach kids with troubled pasts without any such support.</p><p>Experts say the result so far has been a program with good intentions but poor results.</p><p><span style="font-size: 22px;">&#39;Our young people are in a state of emergency right now&#39;</span></p><p>In April, dozens of people on the West Side of Chicago gathered for a grim vigil.</p><p>They were marking the anniversary of a teenager&rsquo;s death, killed a few years before.</p><p>There are a million reasons why fixing the support system for kids getting out of prison is important: bringing down the number of kids who get sent back would mean big savings, for one thing,&nbsp; and the state is betting millions on this restructuring.</p><p>But the major reason is scenes like this prayer vigil. The kids who cycle through Illinois youth prisons are picked up out of violent neighborhoods, locked up for a time and then sent home to those same chaotic places. And when they get back they are more likely to commit another crime.</p><p>&ldquo;The youth that we get &hellip; they&rsquo;re involved with the violence. Either they&rsquo;ve been shot or their friends have been shot,&rdquo; Day said.</p><p>I really wanted to go out with the Aftercare specialists who are on the front lines of this new program. I spent months trying to arrange it, but the Department of Juvenile Justice refused to let me see them at work.</p><p>So I ended up riding along with Day as he did the rounds in Austin and Lawndale one afternoon in May instead.</p><p>&ldquo;Our young people are in a state of emergency right now, and ... we&rsquo;re trying to advocate against the violence,&rdquo; Day said.</p><p>It&rsquo;s important to remember that Day and his organization represent Aftercare at its absolute best. Instead of one person helping and checking up on them, these kids have two. And thanks to the organization he works for, Day has immediate access to mentoring, counseling and drug treatment.</p><p>Even still, what I saw when I went out with Day was a Sisyphean task. None of the kids who we went to check on were where they were supposed to be - each technically in violation of parole.</p><p>At one point, Day saw one of his Aftercare kids on the street, skipping school. Day flagged him down and gave him a ride to class, but when we got there the kid didn&rsquo;t want to get out. He said at one in the afternoon, it was too late to be worth going to school.</p><p>Day was unfazed.</p><p>At the very least, he said, the time he spent driving the kid to and from school was one hour where the young man couldn&rsquo;t be the victim of a crime or be arrested. And he counts every minute like that as a step to a potential breakthrough. Day wants the kids on Aftercare to know that he cares about them and isn&rsquo;t going anywhere.</p><p>During the drive to school, the truant he picked up said he didn&rsquo;t want to go to school because he is too far behind. As a 17-year-old reading at a third-grade level, he says he thinks it will be too much work to catch up.</p><p>It is this kind of hopelessness that Aftercare specialists will have to battle in order to be successful, and that is a hard, long fight. But experts say there are ways the Department of Juvenile Justice could be smarter in its strategy to make it easier.</p><p><span style="font-size: 22px;">&#39;A plane that we&#39;re building as we fly it&#39;</span></p><p>Elizabeth Clarke is the head of the Juvenile Justice Initiative.</p><p>She has been working on improving Illinois juvenile justice since before the Department of Juvenile Justice even existed.</p><p>In fact, she helped create it back in 2006.</p><p>Clarke says fixing parole has been a key goal of the agency since it began eight years ago. And she&rsquo;s frustrated they still haven&rsquo;t gotten it right.</p><p>The Cook County pilot program started in the spring of 2011, but the department hasn&rsquo;t done a single study of its effectiveness&mdash;or at least not one that it&rsquo;s willing to share with the public.</p><p>What numbers are available do not paint a positive picture.</p><p>A key goal of Aftercare is to reduce the number of youth sent back to prison because of a parole violation. But the number of Cook County youth sent back actually went up in the first year of the program.</p><p>&ldquo;Any measure of success depends first and foremost on decreasing the rate of return. If we still have a 53 percent return, then whatever that Cook pilot is doing is not having a positive impact,&rdquo; Clarke said.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/djjadmissiongraphswithsfy2012-2.png" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="Source: David E. Olson, Loyola University" /></div><p>DJJ&rsquo;s new director Candice Jones says she respects Clarke, but she doesn&rsquo;t think it&rsquo;s fair to judge the Cook County pilot program based on a statewide figure.</p><p>Jones took over DJJ at the end of January, and she says she wants her regime to be more open and transparent.</p><p>And she says there aren&rsquo;t any Aftercare-specific numbers to show whether it&rsquo;s working.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>Clarke and other experts I talked to complained about the department&rsquo;s lack of transparency. But Jones protests that she isn&rsquo;t hiding information, there just isn&rsquo;t any data to share.</p><p>&ldquo;We know based on what other people are doing that these are the right models,&rdquo; Jones said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s always best to be able to wait until you have the best, clearest data to make decisions but we don&rsquo;t always have that luxury. You have to make some real-time decisions about a plane that we&rsquo;re building as we fly it.&quot;</p><p>The Aftercare model is the darling of juvenile justice advocates throughout the country and it has been around for a long time.</p><p>Jones, and just about everyone else I talked to, pointed to Pennsylvania&rsquo;s Aftercare program as a model to emulate.</p><p>Kids in Pennsylvania go back to prison at a rate of about 22 percent. In Illinois it&rsquo;s 53 percent if you count the kids who go back to youth prisons. The number jumps to 86 percent if you include those who end up in adult prisons too.</p><p>Though Pennsylvania is the Aftercare model, its program is fundamentally different from the one Illinois is implementing.</p><p>For the most part Pennsylvania eschews youth prison altogether. Their Aftercare treatment starts as soon as a kid is adjudicated &nbsp;and gets sent off to group homes with targeted treatment. They say those placement facilities are the core of Aftercare.</p><p>Illinois doesn&rsquo;t have anything like that.</p><p>John Maki, the director of prison watchdog John Howard Association, says he agrees with the concept of Aftercare, but that so far, Illinois is doing it wrong.</p><p>&ldquo;At a certain level words don&rsquo;t matter, it&rsquo;s about what is a system set up to do?&rdquo; Maki said. &ldquo;And this is a system that by-and-large teaches kids to live in prison and teaches kids how to re-offend.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size: 22px;">&#39;It&#39;s all stick, there&#39;s no carrot&#39;</span></p><p>The only evaluation of the Cook County pilot that has ever been done was by researchers at the University of Chicago&rsquo;s Chapin Hall&mdash;and that was just how it works, not if it does.</p><p>And the study exposes serious flaws.</p><p>It&rsquo;s no surprise that some of the biggest needs of kids on a slippery slope back to prison are substance abuse treatment, education and mentoring. But researchers note that in most of the cases they looked at, Aftercare specialists failed to connect kids to these services.&nbsp;</p><p>And many of the recorded care plans look an awful lot like adult parole:&nbsp; Lots of drug testing and supervision. Much less mentoring or help with school.</p><p>&ldquo;Aftercare is, despite the rhetoric of it being about providing services, it&rsquo;s all stick, there&rsquo;s no carrot,&rdquo; Maki said.</p><p>However, Maki is heartened by the moves Jones has made so far on Aftercare.</p><p>And Jones says she&rsquo;s making those changes because she&rsquo;s knows the stakes.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve got a lot of work to do and we have a tiny little team of people doing it and we have to do it right,&quot; Jones said. &quot;Any fumbles, any missteps can undercut the foundation of what really is the right thing to do.&rdquo;</p><p>The stakes are even clearer about 10 miles west of Jones&rsquo;s downtown Chicago office.</p><p>The last stop on Edwin Day&rsquo;s rounds is the home of Adam, the 16 year old from K-Town. &nbsp;It&rsquo;s been about six weeks since I sat down with Adam and his mom, and Day says since then, things have taken a bad turn.</p><p>Adam has stopped going to school, he&rsquo;s been smoking weed and his mom says he&rsquo;s back out on the street selling drugs.</p><p>When we get to Adam&rsquo;s house, he&rsquo;s not in. Day tries his cell phone and Adam picks up, but when he realizes who it is he mumbles something and hangs up. When Day calls again it goes straight to voicemail.</p><p>Again Day takes a positive view: he&rsquo;s glad to know Adam is still able to pick up his phone, it means he hasn&rsquo;t been arrested.</p><p>Even though he knows Adam is probably out committing crimes, as long as he is still out of prison, there is still time for Day to reach him.</p><p><em>Patrick Smith is a WBEZ producer and reporter. Follow him on twitter <a href="http://twitter.com/pksmid" target="_blank">@pksmid</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 09 Jun 2014 11:34:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-counting-cook-county-program-fix-juvenile-parole-110308