WBEZ | crime http://www.wbez.org/tags/crime Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Who cleans up crime scenes on Chicago streets? http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/who-cleans-crime-scenes-chicago-streets-111055 <p><p><em>Editor&#39;s note: The audio version of this story is contained in the podcast episode above. It begins just before minute seven. </em></p><p>Peter Normand&rsquo;s question for Curious City begins with an unusual email he received on July 13. The email was from his alderman, the 49th Ward&rsquo;s Joe Moore.</p><p>The message referenced William Lewis, a 28-year-old photographer who had just moved to Chicago. Just one day earlier, Lewis had been killed by stray gang gunfire on the 1300 block of W. Devon Ave.</p><p>&ldquo;I happened to be on Devon only a block from the shooting and heard the gunfire,&rdquo; <a href="http://www.ward49.com/site/epage/153765_322.htm" target="_blank">read Ald. Moore&rsquo;s email to constituents</a>. &ldquo;I looked up to see the assailant, who appeared to be a teenager, continue to fire his weapon at a group of fleeing youths. It is something I will never forget.&rdquo;</p><p>What Moore wrote next saddened our question-asker and piqued a morbid curiosity:</p><p>&ldquo;Later that evening on our way to a neighborhood block party, my wife and I drove past the scene of the shooting and noticed that bloodstains remained on the sidewalk. We went to a nearby store to purchase some water, bleach and a brush to clean the sidewalk. By the time we returned, Milton, a resident of the building adjacent to the sidewalk, had already undertaken the grim task. We helped him finish the job.&rdquo;</p><p>Peter Normand, a 36-year-old architect and resident of the 1900 block of W. Morse, was moved enough to ask Curious City:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>Who cleans up the blood on sidewalks and playgrounds after shootings?</em></p><p>We pressed Ald. Moore&rsquo;s 49th Ward office to explain the events he described in that email, <a href="http://chicago.everyblock.com/crime-posts/jul13-man-killed-devon-avenue-shooting-6253739/" target="_blank">which he also posted to the neighborhood web forum EveryBlock</a>. The office declined repeated attempts for any more information than what Moore provided in his online account.</p><p>Regardless, the story raises some interesting questions. For one, whose responsibility is it to clean up blood in the public way? And, if it&rsquo;s not done quickly (or, if it&rsquo;s left behind), what kind of risk does that pose for legal liability and for public health?</p><p>Through conversations with city agencies and private contractors, we parsed out the city&rsquo;s process for cleaning up after homicides and other traumatic events. And we found not everyone agrees the city is doing it the right way.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">&lsquo;Washdown&rsquo;</span></p><p>After the police department&rsquo;s detectives, forensic investigators and evidence technicians have finished investigating the scene of a homicide, they&rsquo;re directed to call for a &ldquo;washdown,&rdquo; according to <a href="http://www.chicagopolice.org/2013MayDirectives/data/a7a57be2-12946bda-6b312-9483-7cdab14bcdee3789.pdf?ownapi=1" target="_blank">Special Order S04-02</a> from the Chicago Police Department&#39;s procedure for crime scene protection or processing. The Illinois State Police follow the same procedure, a spokeswoman said.</p><p>A washdown is when the Chicago Fire Department sends an engine crew to blast the area with &ldquo;copious amounts of water [until] there is no longer any residue left behind,&rdquo; according to Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford. While a very old crime scene might require the addition of disinfecting chemicals, he said, almost all crime scenes on public property are cleaned with plain water &mdash; albeit water blasted from a high-pressure firehose.</p><p>&ldquo;Even dried blood is a hard match for an engine putting out water at that pressure,&rdquo; Langford said. Police and other city agencies also call CFD for a washdown to clean other messes. &ldquo;It could be an accident scene, a drop of material on the street,&rdquo; Langford said. &ldquo;A truck could have spilled honey, and that would be a washdown too.&rdquo;</p><p>If the call for a washdown is considered urgent, Langford said, crews are supposed to show up within three and a half minutes.</p><p>If the crime scene is on private property &mdash; that can include Chicago Housing Authority or Chicago Park District holdings &mdash; it&rsquo;s up to the owner of the property to clean up. They usually hire private contractors, such as Aftermath Services LLC, a crime scene cleanup and biohazard removal company based in Aurora, Illinois.</p><p>The work often involves managing emotional burdens, as well as any physical legacy.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;What we try to do is take as much away from them so they don&#39;t have to worry about the physical clean up,&rdquo; said Kevin Reifsteck, Aftermath Services&rsquo; vice president. Sometimes the jobs include consoling bereaved friends and family members. &ldquo;When you really start getting down to specifically what we&rsquo;re going to be doing, I think that&rsquo;s sometimes when it really becomes a reality for the family.&rdquo;</p><p>Aftermath&rsquo;s work varies by job, which can range from a few hours of disinfection and carpet removal to weeks of biohazard cleanup. (<a href="http://www.abc2news.com/news/local-news/investigations/grief-stricken-customers-complain-about-high-bills-for-crime-scene-clean-up" target="_blank">After a series of complaints about pricing</a> between 2010 and 2013, Aftermath changed its policy to always give upfront estimates of a cleanup job&rsquo;s price, which can be thousands of dollars.)</p><p>But one common element among those privately-contracted jobs is that they use more than just water. Reifsteck did not want to comment on the Chicago Fire Department&rsquo;s practices without witnessing them firsthand, but another private contractor was blunt about the matter.</p><p>&ldquo;Calling in for a washdown is antiquated,&rdquo; said Andrew Yurchuck, board president of the American Bio Recovery Association, an industry trade group. &ldquo;It&#39;s not proper. If a private person did that they would be fined.&rdquo;</p><p>Yurchuck said many cities follow protocol similar to Chicago&rsquo;s, but he favors San Diego&rsquo;s approach, which is to hire private contractors like his for crime scene and accident cleanup. Private contractors often use absorbent booms and hydrogen peroxide to disinfect blood and other liquids, cleaning on site instead of washing blood into the sewer system. &ldquo;Rather than spraying and sending it out down into the river,&rdquo; Yurchuck said, &ldquo;we try to absorb it right there.&rdquo;</p><p>He thinks Chicago officials could be skirting laws governing the disposal of medical waste. We found legal and scientific reasons why that may not be the case.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CuriousCityCopBlood-1 shawn allee.jpg" title="A stain on the sidewalk from a crime scene on the 1600 block of W. Morse Ave. in Rogers Park. While Chicago police have a washdown protocol for cleaning up crime scenes, our question was inspired by two apparent cases where the public took on the task. (WBEZ/Shawn Allee)" /></div></div></div></div><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Clean enough?</span></p><p>Langford said the Chicago Fire Department is under no legal obligation to sanitize city streets and sidewalks, which he points out are not sterile places to begin with. &ldquo;It doesn&#39;t make sense to disinfect a panel of the sidewalk,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;If something is to the point that it&#39;s dangerous it would be a level one hazmat situation. We would send the hazmat crew.&rdquo;</p><p>But even blood, which typically merits a simple washdown from CFD, can convey diseases if not properly handled. The <a href="https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=STANDARDS&amp;p_id=10051" target="_blank">Occupational Safety &amp; Health Administration</a>&rsquo;s Blood Borne Pathogens standard (29 CFR 1910.1030) recommends training and protective gear for handling substances like blood that could convey HIV, hepatitis B and other serious illnesses. Langford said firemen don&rsquo;t need special gear because they never come into contact with biomatter on crime scenes &mdash; they just blast it with water from afar.</p><p>Illinois&rsquo;<a href="http://www.ipcb.state.il.us/documents/dsweb/Get/Document-12277" target="_blank"> code for potentially infectious medical waste (35 Illinois Administrative Code 1420.102)</a>, which includes blood, instructs &ldquo;all persons who generate, transport, treat, store or dispose of&rdquo; such waste to use detergent and low-level disinfection techniques like bleach. But the code only requires those measures if the blood results from medical procedures.</p><p>&ldquo;Anything that&rsquo;s done in a crime scene cleanup is not diagnosing or treating humans or animals,&rdquo; says Beverly Albarracin, who oversees the potentially infectious medical waste program for Illinois&rsquo; Environmental Protection Agency. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s not regulated as medical waste.&rdquo;</p><p>She says the public health risk is vanishingly small.</p><p>&ldquo;The odds of a disease lasting, for one thing, outside of a human body and remaining virulent or able to cause disease,&rdquo; Albarracin says, &ldquo;it&rsquo;s a very very minute possibility.&rdquo;</p><p>But what about legal risk? Scott Burris, a professor with Temple University&rsquo;s Center for Health Law, Policy and Practice, said while he hasn&rsquo;t investigated the issue in depth, it&rsquo;s &ldquo;hard to imagine a transmission happening accidentally or that someone could be consider negligent under the circumstances.&rdquo; The risks of infection are low, he said, although new fears of Ebola might change the equation.</p><p>Both federal and state representatives from OSHA and the Department of Public Health were unaware of any complaints against the Chicago police and fire departments related to crime scene cleanup.</p><p>That&rsquo;s not surprising to Dr. Carl Bell, a medical expert on youth violence and a psychiatrist at Jackson Park Hospital and Medical Center.</p><p>&ldquo;Having lived in Chicago my entire life, it&rsquo;s very clear to me that Chicago is characterized by cosmetics,&rdquo; Bell said. &ldquo;And having blood or bullet casings on the street is not good. So they&rsquo;ve done a very good job of cleaning up after homicides. &hellip; I think it&rsquo;s always been the case.&rdquo;</p><p>As for taking steps to disinfect crime scenes before a washdown that could flush biological material into the city&rsquo;s sewers, Bell said &ldquo;it&rsquo;s probably not that risky,&rdquo; because most blood-borne pathogens are short-lived outside the human body.</p><p>But let&rsquo;s say the city doesn&rsquo;t clean blood quickly and community members pass by the scene. Is there potential to traumatize them? Dr. Bell says yes, but memory is complicated. Consider the<a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2014-06-18/news/ct-chicago-murder-memorials-met-20140618_1_memorials-shrines-human-toll" target="_blank"> makeshift memorials that mark the sites of homicides</a> and car accidents across the city. These are odes to lost loved ones, but also a daily reminder of violence in neighborhoods where they are all too common.</p><p>&ldquo;Those spots are traumatic reminders for some people,&rdquo; Bell said, &ldquo;whether the city cleans up after it or not.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Now we have an answer. Who asked the question?&nbsp;</span></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/question%20asker.jpg" style="float: right; height: 375px; width: 300px; margin: 5px;" title="(Photo courtesy Peter Normand)" />Architect Peter Normand lives in the same area, Chicago&rsquo;s far North Side, that sparked his question about crime-scene blood and who&rsquo;s responsible for cleaning it when it&rsquo;s on the public way.</p><p>Notably, he had two occasions to consider the question, not just one. There&rsquo;s the email from Ald. Joe Moore mentioned above, but he had also seen blood on the sidewalk for himself, just a few months earlier. &nbsp;</p><p>On the night of April 10, he was on the 1600 block of W. Morse Ave. and came across blood left from a shooting earlier that evening. He was surprised to see it the next morning, as he walked to work.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s where a lot of kids have to walk to go to school,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s less than half a block from New Field [elementary school].&rdquo;</p><p>Maybe the kids noticed the blood, or maybe they didn&rsquo;t, he said. He hopes few did.</p><p>&ldquo;Eventually it doesn&rsquo;t look any different than salsa spilled on the sidewalk, but it&rsquo;s not salsa,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Peter&rsquo;s accounts greatly informed our reporting. Among other things, his story about the April shooting suggested at least one example of where citizens, not the city, had disposed of blood on the sidewalk. (Officials have no record of clean up at this spot). His recollection of the location led us to the Hadima (she would only give her first name), who owns SK Food Mart. The shooting victim had bled in front of the store.</p><p>She remembers seeing the blood, too. She said she had a janitor in the building clean it.</p><p>&ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t want to see blood in front of my store so I had to wash it out,&rdquo; she said.</p><p><em><a href="http://cabentley.com/" target="_blank">Chris Bentley is a freelance reporter</a> and regular contributor to WBEZ&rsquo;s Curious City. Follow him at cabentley.com and on Twitter at<a href="http://twitter.com/cementley" target="_blank"> @Cementley</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 03 Nov 2014 17:27:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/who-cleans-crime-scenes-chicago-streets-111055 Lawsuit: Man beaten in Cook County jail more than 10 hours after judge ordered his release http://www.wbez.org/news/lawsuit-man-beaten-cook-county-jail-more-10-hours-after-judge-ordered-his-release-110788 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Screen Shot 2014-09-12 at 5.25.21 AM.png" alt="" /><p><p>Under the authority of Sheriff Tom Dart, Cook County inmates who&rsquo;ve already been freed by a judge are taken back into the jail&rsquo;s general population while they wait to be processed out.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>It&rsquo;s a practice that&rsquo;s been called unconstitutional. and more than a year ago Dart told WBEZ&nbsp; he&rsquo;d fix it.</p><p>But little has changed.</p><p>For one of the men who went through this process, Edward Shultz, going back into lockup turned out to be dangerous.</p><p>Shultz went before a Cook County judge in suburban Bridgeview around 10 in the morning on May 8, 2013.</p><p>There he pleaded guilty to unlawful use of a weapon, a misdemeanor.</p><p>Shultz had been picked up about three weeks earlier after police officers in Oak Lawn found brass knuckles in his glove compartment during a traffic stop. He was taken to Cook County jail at 26th Street and California Avenue on Chicago&rsquo;s West Side and stayed there while he awaited trial.</p><p>After he pleaded guilty, the judge ruled that the 20-or-so days he had spent waiting was sufficient punishment and ordered Shultz be released.</p><p>Shultz says he was relieved and excited to go back to his family.</p><p>Before he could do that, he was taken back to a holding cell where he says he waited more than seven hours to be bused back to the jail.</p><p>Around 6 p.m. in the evening, Shultz was in handcuffs being ushered back into Cook County jail.</p><p>&ldquo;By the time they get you back to the jail, you know, the shift change comes and they leave you and you&rsquo;re still in handcuffs and they put you in a large room all handcuffed together,&rdquo; Shultz says.</p><p>After that, Shultz was returned to the deck where he had been living and he started to gather his things.</p><p>&ldquo;I went into the washroom, a group of inmates walked in and started asking me questions and I told them I don&rsquo;t know I&rsquo;m just getting ready to go home. I was struck by an inmate. And at that time I was still conscious and about maybe six or seven more inmates ran in the bathroom on me,&rdquo; Shultz says.</p><p>After that, he says, he was knocked unconscious.</p><p>Another inmate came and helped him up, and offered him a rag to clean his face.</p><p>Then Shultz says he made a beeline for the jail&rsquo;s phones and made a collect call to his grandmother, Lucy Griffin.</p><p>WBEZ obtained a recording of that call, and <a href="https://soundcloud.com/wbez/edward-shultz-jail-phone-call">you can listen to it here</a>. In it, Shultz sounds disoriented. He pleads with his grandma to arrange for someone to pick him up outside of the jail, although he doesn&rsquo;t know exactly when he&rsquo;ll get out.</p><p>&ldquo;I just got beat up really bad,&rdquo; he tells her. &ldquo;The whole side of my head is swollen and face is swollen and my nose is broken.&rdquo;</p><p>When he tells her the judge had given him credit for time served, she asks &ldquo;Well, then why did you go back to jail?&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Because you have to go back to jail until they call you out of here,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>Shultz says it was only after he made the call that any guards noticed his injuries.</p><p>According to incident reports from the jail, Shultz had visible bumps and red marks on his head and face and a bloody nose.</p><p>Those reports list the time of the beating as 8:45 p.m., almost 11 hours after a judge had declared Shultz a free man.</p><p>The same month Shultz was attacked in a jail bathroom, Sheriff Tom Dart told WBEZ he wanted to change the way the jail handled inmates after a judge orders their release.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re trying to get people out of the jail as quickly as possible,&rdquo; he said in an interview with WBEZ&rsquo;s Robert Wildeboer in May of 2013.</p><p>And Dart pointed to a pilot program that would allow workers in suburban courthouses to check for warrants and everything else so inmates can be discharged straight from court.</p><p>Cara Smith, the jail&rsquo;s executive director, says that program is now in every suburban courthouse.</p><p>But so far, it&rsquo;s only enabled two inmates to leave from the courthouse.</p><p>She says the sheriff&rsquo;s office is doing its &ldquo;very best&rdquo; to improve the discharge process. But she couldn&rsquo;t say that the wait time has gotten any shorter for the typical inmate.</p><p>&ldquo;Our two primary goals are overall to get people released as quickly as possible, but to make sure the right people are being released. We have a very, very antiquated system &hellip; it&rsquo;s paper-based primarily,&rdquo; Smith says. &ldquo;We have to be extremely careful that we&rsquo;re not releasing the wrong individual.&rdquo;</p><p>In order to do that, workers at the jail have to go through the paper records to check for outstanding warrants before they can let an inmate go.</p><p>Attorney Patrick Morrissey agrees the sheriff should be doing these thorough checks. But he says the process is way too long, and unsafe for the people waiting to be released.</p><p>&ldquo;These are people who are entitled to their freedom. And people who are entitled to be free should be released in the most efficient and timely manner,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>Morrissey is representing Shultz in a lawsuit against Tom Dart and Cook County.</p><p>That lawsuit is on top of the ongoing class action suit brought over the discharge process.</p><p>Shultz&rsquo;s federal complaint blames poor supervision at the jail for his beating.</p><p>And it alleges that Shultz never should have been at the jail more than 10 hours after a judge had declared him a free man.</p><p>Morrissey says he knows it is tough to change a system as big and old as Cook County&rsquo;s.</p><p>&ldquo;But I don&rsquo;t think there&rsquo;s been enough attention and focus by the sheriff&rsquo;s office to really retool the system,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>He adds that one fix could be to have a separate waiting room at the jail.</p><p>That would keep people who have already been freed away from the general population while their paperwork is processed.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/167302102&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><em>Patrick Smith is a WBEZ producer and reporter. Follow him <a href="http://TWITTER.COM/pksmid">@pksmid</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 12 Sep 2014 05:22:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/lawsuit-man-beaten-cook-county-jail-more-10-hours-after-judge-ordered-his-release-110788 Standing in the gap: Parents in violent communities stress about keeping kids safe http://www.wbez.org/news/standing-gap-parents-violent-communities-stress-about-keeping-kids-safe-110670 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/kids.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>Fifty school-aged children died so far this year in Chicago. And in at least <a href="https://soundcloud.com/afternoonshiftwbez/arrest-made-in-shamiya-adams-murder">one case</a>, the child was killed while playing inside a friend&rsquo;s home&mdash;a setting that most parents would think is extremely safe. But for many parents living in neighborhoods where violence is a reality, even the most benign settings can feel unsafe and out of control.</p><p>Parents worry. Most never stop worrying about their children. It&rsquo;s a parent&rsquo;s job to protect and provide for their child; to help them grow and develop as individuals. So when a parent&rsquo;s abilities are compromised by things out of their control, it can be overwhelming.</p><p>On the far South Side of Chicago, in Roseland, crime and violence add to parents&rsquo; worries. Parents bite their fingernails in the summer months, when idle time leaves young people vulnerable to dangerous community elements.</p><p><a href="http://crime.chicagotribune.com/chicago/community/roseland">Fifty-five people</a> have been shot in Roseland so far this year; in the last month, there&rsquo;s been more than three dozen batteries and assaults in the neighborhood. The majority of the violent crimes in the neighborhood take place on the street or a sidewalk, which is why many parents say they&rsquo;re leery to send their kids outside to play.</p><p>James Brown, 44, keeps a close watch over his 12-year-old son Semaj. Brown says stories about stray bullets hitting innocent kids is a known factor in the community&mdash;and that the people pulling the triggers don&rsquo;t care who or what they&rsquo;re shooting. And so, Semaj isn&rsquo;t allowed to ride his bike unless his father&rsquo;s outside.</p><p>&ldquo;I just want to be out there...&rdquo; Brown explained, &ldquo;not saying I can protect them from it, I just want to be out there.&rdquo;</p><p>Brown wants to be everywhere when it comes to his only child. And he keeps Semaj very busy.</p><p>&ldquo;Right now, we playing baseball, then after baseball we play basketball...we play football. I have to keep him occupied..hanging out on the block is not an option at all, he knows that,&rdquo; Brown reasoned.</p><p>We. We play basketball, we play football: It would be hard for Brown not to feel like a member of the team, considering he goes to every game and practice.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s hard, it&rsquo;s hard...but I can&rsquo;t give my son to the streets. I can&rsquo;t give him to to the streets. I can&rsquo;t give him to people that act like they care but really don&rsquo;t care,&rdquo; Brown said.</p><p>Brown cares; not just about his son but about all the young men in Roseland. He&rsquo;s worked as a high school football coach in the community for the last two decades.</p><p>&ldquo;I coach football to save lives. I don&rsquo;t coach to be popular to be liked, I could care less if you like me. But it&rsquo;s an option for kids...to change their life,&rdquo; Brown said. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>But Brown felt there weren&rsquo;t any good little league options for his son in Roseland. So he spent the summer driving him to and from Englewood to play on its baseball team. His youngest sister, Victoria Harper Peeples, chose to do the same with her two boys. Both parents recognize the irony in taking their kids from one violent neighborhood to another to play little league.</p><p>&ldquo;People are immune to gunshots nowadays&mdash;as opposed to run for cover, they just sit there and act as if nothing happens&hellip;&rdquo; Harper Peeples lamented.</p><p>&ldquo;Well kids know &#39;hit the deck,&rsquo; wait for the shooting is over with and then get up and walk away. They know that. That&rsquo;s what we teach them. &lsquo;Cause you can&rsquo;t keep &lsquo;em in the house, you can&rsquo;t shelter them&hellip;&rdquo; Brown added.</p><p>Clinical psychologist <a href="http://www.uchospitals.edu/physicians/physician.html?id=6146" target="_blank">Brad Stolbach</a>, with the University of Chicago, has focused his entire career on children affected by trauma and violence. For nearly 20 years, he ran the Chicago Child Trauma Center at La Rabida Children&rsquo;s Hospital on the city&rsquo;s South Side. Stolbach said the constant, real threat of violence in communities like Roseland can be extremely stressful and disruptive.</p><p>&ldquo;If that&rsquo;s your top priority, is watching out and knowing when to hit the deck, it&#39;s very hard to attend to the normal tasks of daily life,&rdquo; Stolbach explained.</p><p>Moreover, Stolbach continued, parents really struggle when they feel like their child&rsquo;s safety is out of their control.</p><p>&ldquo;It&#39;s just the way we&#39;re wired, especially moms, that protecting their children is a biological imperative. It&#39;s the number one priority in a lot of ways. And so feeling powerless to do that, can be not just frustrating but can really affect how you feel about yourself as a parent and as a person.&rdquo;</p><p>And when your kid turns out to be the perpetrator of violence...well, that&rsquo;s tough too.</p><p>Diane Latiker raised eight kids in Roseland. She described her parenting style as overprotective, relentless even.</p><p>&ldquo;I have four sons and when they were growing up, they were in gangs and I knew it. I mean, I tried my best to spearhead them other ways...I mean, I was relentless. But I had to get them away from here...literally, all four of them, to save their lives,&rdquo; Latiker recalled.</p><p>She sent the boys to live with their father in a nearby suburban Bellwood. She thought her worries were nearly over when her youngest daughter was about 13. She could almost see the finish line&mdash;her days of worrying about kids hanging out around the neighborhood were numbered. But it was around that time when Latiker realized, it wasn&rsquo;t just her kids who needed looking after.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;My mom worked; so when I came home from school, the block watched me when my mom was gone. Someone would see me out on the street and say, &lsquo;What are you doing Diane? Where you going Diane? Shouldn&rsquo;t you be in the house?&rsquo; So, you know, I never asked where their parents were or why they weren&rsquo;t doing...I just wanted to know what I could do to help fill in,&rdquo; she remembered.</p><p>Her foundation, <a href="http://www.kobchicago.org/">Kids Off the Block</a>, began with 10 of her daughter&#39;s friends. She invited them into her home and encouraged them to safely explore their interests and potential. Soon there were scores of kids in her living room and off the street. The kids no longer gather in her home, Latiker acquired a space next door. And while the network and foundation has grown, Latiker says the sense of community she remembers from her youth, or the &ldquo;neighbor - hood&rdquo; as she calls it, is still noticeably absent.</p><p>Latiker isn&rsquo;t the only person who thinks so.</p><p>Robert Douglas grew up in Roseland, on 114th and Prairie, in the late 80s and early 90s when the murder rate was double what it is today. Still, Douglas said he felt safer back then.</p><p>&ldquo;We had these backyards, right? That&rsquo;s where the neighbors got to know each other...now, they can&rsquo;t sit on the porch to get a breeze...because of the violence,&rdquo; Douglas said.</p><p>Douglas was a self-described &ldquo;gym rat&rdquo; growing up, which kept him out of trouble...for a while. But then his oldest brother was killed by gun violence.</p><p>&ldquo;My oldest brother was like...daddy. When he left, it was like...you know, hungry...where do we turn now?&rdquo; Douglas recalled.</p><p>Douglas never imagined what that kind of loss might feel like.</p><p>&ldquo;You don&rsquo;t know what it&rsquo;s like until you&rsquo;re burying someone to gun violence. You wouldn&rsquo;t...you could never imagine it,&rdquo; Douglas said.</p><p>He never imagined his response would be to turn to the streets. Douglas said the temptation was unavoidable.</p><p>&ldquo;Violence came to my front door,&rdquo; Douglas began. He rapped a few friendly but firm knocks onto the surface in front of him as he remembered his journey to a life of crime and violence. &ldquo;[Violence] said, &lsquo;Bob, what&rsquo;s up?&rsquo; And I opened the door and I went outside and I played.&rdquo;</p><p>Douglas doesn&rsquo;t want the same fate waiting for his children outside their door...no gangs, no drugs, no violence...none of it.</p><p>&ldquo;Ain&rsquo;t no way in the world I&rsquo;m gonna allow that to happen...and I&rsquo;m not moving out of Roseland. My wife want to go so bad...and she right...my children don&rsquo;t deserve it...they deserve better,&rdquo; Douglas said.</p><p>But Stolbach said it&rsquo;s important to understand that the idea of &ldquo;stopping the violence,&rdquo; is a fantasy until the reality of what causes it&mdash;poverty&mdash;is addressed.</p><p>&ldquo;If we continue to look at how horrible it is but that doesn&rsquo;t result in us trying to change what we&rsquo;re doing about it...that can be demoralizing,&quot; Stolbach explained.</p><p>But when parks and playgrounds are considered an unsafe place to play, when jobs and resources are limited, when neighbors have stopped looking out for one another, giving your kids better is hard.</p><p>And mom Harper Peeples said, it&rsquo;s already pretty tough.</p><p>&ldquo;We like superheroes for our children. Our kids look at us and be like, &lsquo;nothing goes wrong, we don&rsquo;t have any problems, we don&rsquo;t have any worries...&rsquo; But we be stressed out just trying to make sure, did I put them in the right school, did I let &lsquo;em hang with the right friends, did I put him on the right baseball team? There&rsquo;s just so many things that we have to do as parents, and we always put on the spotlight. I mean, it&rsquo;s no chance that mom or dad could make a mistake. We have to be almost like perfect individuals, at least in the sight of our children.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Katie O&rsquo;Brien is a WBEZ reporter and producer. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/katieobez">@katieobez</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 18 Aug 2014 15:52:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/standing-gap-parents-violent-communities-stress-about-keeping-kids-safe-110670 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 Compare: Illinois governor candidates' views on concealed carry http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/compare-illinois-governor-candidates-views-concealed-carry-109845 <p><p><em>Editor&rsquo;s note: This episode of the Curious City podcast includes a story about what the candidates for Illinois governor think about the state&rsquo;s new concealed-carry law. It starts 6 minutes, 30 seconds into the program. (Subscribe via <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/curious-city/id568409161">iTunes </a>or <a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/CuriousCityPodcast">Feedburner</a>!) This topic was also <a href="https://soundcloud.com/afternoonshiftwbez/curious-city-gay-marriage-and" target="_blank">discussed on WBEZ&#39;s The Afternoon Shift</a>.&nbsp;</em></p><p>Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford of Elgin, Ill., had a perception about guns and violence that made her curious about the crop of primary candidates vying to be the state&rsquo;s governor. Her suspicion? The more that people carry guns in public, the higher the likelihood of gun violence.</p><p>With this highly-debated viewpoint in hand, she sent Curious City this question, just in time for the March 18 primary:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>What would the candidates for Illinois governor do to prevent gun violence once thousands of residents are granted concealed carry permits?</em></p><p>There&rsquo;s a lot to unpack here, including some basic information about the state&rsquo;s concealed carry law.</p><p>First, Illinois was the last state in the country to adopt concealed carry and, even then, the lawmakers didn&rsquo;t act on their own; they were forced to pass a bill &mdash; any bill &mdash; by a federal judge who had ruled it&rsquo;s unconstitutional to not allow people to carry concealed guns in public. The legislature approved such a bill in May 2013.</p><p>The timing&rsquo;s not lost on Cheryl, who tells us she once appreciated that Illinois had not allowed concealed carry, and she feels the policy was foisted on the state.</p><p>But now, she said, &ldquo;The way our elected officials respond is going to be crucial.&rdquo;</p><p>Cheryl&rsquo;s onto something here. The first few thousand applicants have just begun receiving their concealed carry permits from the Illinois State Police. That means that &mdash; between the primary and November&rsquo;s general election &mdash; state residents will have a better idea of what living in a state with concealed carry really feels like.</p><p>And there may be pressure, one way or another, to rework the policy.</p><p>So how would the candidates respond?</p><p>To the best of our ability, we let the<a href="#views"> candidates themselves speak to this</a>. But since several of them cite studies about the relationship between violence, crime and concealed carry policy, we also compared their statements to what&rsquo;s being said about concealed carry by academics. While answering Cheryl&#39;s question, we found the bottom line is that the lack of consensus among the candidates is pretty much reflected by a lack of consensus in the research.</p><p><strong>Good guy gun ownership, bad guy gun ownership</strong></p><p>So what effect do concealed carry laws have on violence? It&rsquo;s important to tease out because politicians often cite research to back their positions. And &mdash; as you&rsquo;ll read and hear below &mdash; the academic findings run the gamut..</p><p>(A clarification: Cheryl asked about positions related to concealed carry and violence. Researchers we reached out to look at violent crime, but other types of crime, as well.)</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Tio%20H%20from%20campaign.jpg" style="margin: 5px; height: 190px; width: 285px; float: right;" title="Tio Hardiman is challenging Governor Quinn in the Democratic Primary. (Photo courtesy of the Tio Hardiman campaign)" /><a href="http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/493636.html" target="_blank">John Lott</a> has studied the effects of concealed carry laws on crime rates. He wrote a book called More Guns, Less Crime, which pretty much sums up where he stands.</p><p>&ldquo;The fact that a would-be victim might be able to defend themselves also deters crime,&rdquo; Lott said in a phone interview with WBEZ.</p><p>Lott&rsquo;s research of municipal crime data from across the country suggests crime drops after concealed carry laws take effect, and the more concealed carry permits that are issued, the more it drops.</p><p>&ldquo;You know, all sorts of claims about &lsquo;Bad things are gonna happen, you know, blood in the streets?&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;A year from now, everybody&rsquo;s gonna say, &lsquo;What was this debate all about?&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>That&rsquo;s particularly true for Illinois, Lott said, because strict requirements on obtaining a concealed carry permit may limit the number of people who get them.</p><p>But here&rsquo;s where things get a little complex, if not outright confusing.</p><p><a href="http://www.law.stanford.edu/profile/john-j-donohue-iii" target="_blank">John Donohue</a>, a professor at Stanford, has also studied the effects of concealed carry laws on crime rates, and his research suggests the exact opposite of what Lott found.</p><p>&ldquo;If I had to bet my house, I&rsquo;d say more likely that they have adverse impacts than that they have a beneficial impact,&rdquo; Donohue said, adding the caveat that the current available research models aren&rsquo;t perfect.</p><p>Still, Donohue said he&rsquo;s doing preliminary work with a new research model that suggests right-to-carry laws lead to more aggravated assaults.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/4655925819_1f5bc72c99_o.jpg" style="margin: 5px; float: left; height: 183px; width: 275px;" title="Incumbent Pat Quinn advocates for firmer restrictions on concealed carry. (Flickr/Chris Eaves)" /></p><p>And then there&rsquo;s a third position held by other researchers about what happens to crime rates in right-to-carry states, as expressed by Prof. <a href="http://www.criminology.fsu.edu/p/faculty-gary-kleck.php" target="_blank">Gary Kleck</a> from Florida State University.</p><p>&ldquo;Other things being equal, nothing happens,&rdquo; Kleck said. &ldquo;Good guy gun ownership has crime-reducing effects and bad guy gun ownership has crime-elevating effects.&rdquo;</p><p>The reason there are so many contradictory opinions is that none of these folks can agree on what data they should be looking at or how they should be looking at it. Kleck said this gets into differences over the minutiae of crime research models.</p><p>&ldquo;There may be only one right way to do it, but there&rsquo;s like a million different wrong ways to do it. And yeah, if you&rsquo;re a layperson, you&rsquo;re just &lsquo;Joe Regular Guy&rsquo; trying to figure it out, you&rsquo;re doomed,&rdquo; Kleck said. &ldquo;I mean, there&rsquo;s nothing I can say to help you out because you&rsquo;re not gonna be qualified to see those ... flaws in the research.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP463233027879.jpg" style="margin: 5px; height: 303px; width: 450px;" title="The GOP candidates, from left to right, state Sen. Bill Brady, state Treasurer Dan Rutherford, state Sen. Kirk Dillard, and businessman Bruce Rauner prepare to debate. (AP Photo/Chicago Tribune, Terrence Antonio James, Pool)" /></div><p><strong>Where the candidates stand</strong></p><p>All this is to show that concealed carry is a complicated, controversial issue. But we wanted to illustrate that even among the experts &mdash; the folks whom politicians are citing &mdash; there&rsquo;s not a consensus.</p><p>We posed Cheryl&rsquo;s question to all six major party campaigns, but we had to track down responses in very different ways. In three cases we were able to ask candidates directly, either at press conferences or via phone calls. For the others, we had to search for answers through other avenues. In some cases, we extrapolated a position based on the candidate&rsquo;s previous statements on concealed carry, crime, violence and guns.</p><p><strong>Democrat Tio Hardiman</strong></p><p>He is the only candidate who acknowledged the conflicting research that we encountered.</p><p>&ldquo;I cannot penalize, not with a good conscience, penalize legal gun owners for the violence problem in Illinois. There&rsquo;s no data to back it up. So if people would like to exercise their right to the Second Amendment, they should be able to do so.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Republican State Sen. Bill Brady</strong></p><p>&ldquo;We also have to understand that this is about public safety and driving down crime. We know that in every state where concealed carry took place, crime went down. And we need to give our citizens the opportunity to protect themselves and watch crime go down.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Republican State Sen. Kirk Dillard</strong></p><p>&ldquo;Illinois is the last state in America to allow people to protect themselves. It took the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals to force the state of Illinois to allow people to have the same right they had in all 49 other states, let alone keep the criminals guessing. I take a wait and see approach. I think we ought to wait and see how this law unfurls for a while before we make any changes, pro or con, to it.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Republican businessman Bruce Rauner</strong></p><p>We didn&rsquo;t get a direct response from Bruce Rauner, but he addressed themes in Cheryl&rsquo;s question during a debate.</p><p>&ldquo;I think concealed carry was long overdue. Gun ownership is an important constitutional right. We should end the approach that many politicians take in Illinois and that is to blame our crime problems on gun ownership. Our crime problems are one of, crimes about inadequate police staffing, high unemployment and horrible schools, not about gun ownership.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Republican State Treasurer Dan Rutherford</strong></p><p>In previous statements, including this one from a debate in northwest suburban Hoffman Estates, he&rsquo;s said he wants the Illinois State Police to oversee gun licenses efficiently.</p><p>&ldquo;If I was king of the forest or if I was the governor and I was able to help influence it, it would be a different bill than what it was. I think what we need to be very, very sensitive to, though, is the evolution of this. The evolution could be, as you suggested, perhaps making it better and more enhancing. But as well an evolution could also put us backwards if we don&rsquo;t have the right people in the governor&rsquo;s office, we don&rsquo;t have the right people in the General Assembly. One of the performance reviews that I will be doing is with regards to State Police. Why does it take so long to process a FOID card? Why does it take so long to process the application for your concealed carry? Those are unacceptable.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Democratic incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn</strong></p><p>The governor didn&rsquo;t seem to like any part of the process of negotiating the concealed carry bill last year, and he <a href="http://www3.illinois.gov/PressReleases/ShowPressRelease.cfm?SubjectID=2&amp;RecNum=11323" target="_blank">vetoed parts of it </a>in the name of safety. Those changes were overridden by the General Assembly.</p><p>&ldquo;This is about public safety. I think that public safety should never be compromised, never be negotiated away. The governor, that&rsquo;s me, my job is to protect public safety and I think that&rsquo;s what I&rsquo;m doing here with these common sense changes. I think we need to repeat that over and over again. The things I&rsquo;ve outlined today that have changed this bill are all about common sense and public safety and I think the General Assembly and the members should put aside politics and focus on people and their safety.&rdquo;<a name="views"></a></p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="400" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/26501739&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><em>Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics for WBEZ. Follow him <a href="http://twitter.com/tonyjarnold">@tonyjarnold</a>.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/akeefe">Alex Keefe</a> is a political reporter at WBEZ. You can follow him on <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZpolitics">Twitter</a> and <a href="https://plus.google.com/102759794640397640028">Google+</a>.</em></p><p><em>This report received additional support through <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center">Front &amp; Center</a>, an occasional WBEZ series funded by The Joyce Foundation.</em></p></p> Wed, 12 Mar 2014 19:02:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/compare-illinois-governor-candidates-views-concealed-carry-109845 Murdered Chicago teen died with bus ticket out of town http://www.wbez.org/news/murdered-chicago-teen-died-bus-ticket-out-town-108845 <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/Rodney%20%287%20of%2016%29.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Rodney Stewart’s grandma, Sheila Green, looks down at Stewart’s grave at Mount Hope Cemetery. Stewart was 17 when he was murdered last year. (Photo courtesy of Sophia Nahli Allison)" /></div><p>Last fall 17-year old Rodney Stewart knew he was in danger and that he needed to get out of Chicago.&nbsp; Stewart had a plan. He was going to move to Iowa, where he could live with two friends and where he had a lead on a job.&nbsp; He bought a ticket for a bus leaving Chicago on November 10, 2012.&nbsp; But in the early morning hours of November 8th, just two days before that bus would have left, Stewart was found face down in an alley in the 2600 block of West 83rd Street, shot in the back of the head. He died later that day.</p><p>Rodney Stewart&rsquo;s family and longtime friends say they never expected his life to end this way. They remember him as an easy-going, silly but responsible young man. Stewart was a good kid, who stayed out of trouble, says Sheila Green, his grandmother; he wasn&rsquo;t in jail like other relatives, she adds. Green says her grandson-- who came to live with her when he was 10-- actually liked to clean and go to bed early, and he had no problem taking care of his younger relatives or chipping in for groceries when needed.</p><p>But Green remembers a conversation she had with her grandson about a year before he was killed. Stewart warned her that he was in trouble. She didn&rsquo;t believe him. &ldquo;He told me he has &lsquo;enemies&rsquo; and that I wouldn&rsquo;t understand,&rdquo; Green recounts. &ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t take him serious because we&rsquo;re talking about Trell, who is silly, lanky, just silly. He was what the kids would call a nerd. I&rsquo;m like, &lsquo;Boy, who want you? Nobody thinking about you.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Downward Spiral</strong><br /><br />Stewart tried several times to get away from the dangers he feared would catch up with him.</p><p>In May of 2012, he decided to move out of Green&rsquo;s house to live with his mother. Green says the 16-year-old was seeking more freedom, and she didn&rsquo;t approve of the move. When Stewart&rsquo;s relationship with his mother grew strained, he moved in with his girlfriend, LaDorothy Morrison, and her family.&nbsp; When that family moved from their South Side Woodlawn neighborhood to the West Side in August of 2012, Stewart moved with them.</p><p>In late October 2012, Green says Stewart&rsquo;s school, Bronzeville Scholastic Institute, contacted her because he had missed 42 days of school, almost the entire semester. Green says the school told her that his mother could not be reached.<br /><br />Green talked to her grandson. She says Stewart told her he couldn&rsquo;t go back to school and said he wanted to take classes online instead, something she reluctantly agreed to.</p><p>Despite the increasing instability, school absences and repeated moves, Stewart&rsquo;s girlfriend LaDorothy Morrison insists Stewart was trying to hang on and make something work.<br />&nbsp;<br />&ldquo;We used to always talk about our future, and he would always tell me there&rsquo;s nothing in Chicago,&rdquo; says Morrison. &ldquo;You&rsquo;re going to end up dead, or in jail, and he was so looking forward to moving.&rdquo;<br /><br />But when it comes to talking about who may have killed her boyfriend, Morrison shuts down, saying she doesn&rsquo;t feel &ldquo;comfortable.&rdquo;</p><p>That resistance piques the suspicion of Stewart&rsquo;s aunt Andrea Johnson. Johnson says she was close to her nephew.&nbsp; She blinks back tears at the mention of his name. She says Morrison is &ldquo;not cooperating&rdquo; with detectives and is therefore partly to blame for the fact that the case still hasn&rsquo;t been solved.<br /><br />&ldquo;The decision to bring charges in any case, murder or otherwise, is made by the State&rsquo;s Attorney&rsquo;s Office,&rdquo; says Adam Collins, a spokesman for the Chicago Police Department.</p><p>&ldquo;The key pieces of evidence typically required by prosecutors include credible witnesses who is [sic] willing to come forward or DNA, which you don&rsquo;t have with murder by gunfire,&rdquo; says Collins.</p><p>Stewart&rsquo;s grandmother Sheila Green says the identity of the shooter is not a secret, but that the family is&nbsp; still waiting for witnesses who will testify in court. &ldquo;We know, and the detectives know who did it,&rdquo; says Green, &ldquo;But there isn&rsquo;t enough evidence because no witness will step up.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Andrea Watson is a Columbia College graduate student. She reported and wrote this story as part of the &quot;<a href="http://www.chicagotalks.org/?s=forgotten+dead&amp;x=0&amp;y=0" target="_blank">Forgotten Dead&quot;</a> series, a Columbia College student project that looked into unsolved murders in Chicago last year.</em></p></p> Thu, 03 Oct 2013 15:19:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/murdered-chicago-teen-died-bus-ticket-out-town-108845 Education groups help in fight against child abuse http://www.wbez.org/news/education-groups-help-fight-against-child-abuse-108829 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/abuseposter.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>Some key education groups in Illinois are out to help stem child abuse.</p><p>The Illinois Association of School Boards, the Illinois Education Association, the Illinois Federation of Teachers and the Illinois PTA will participate in the state&rsquo;s &ldquo;You are not alone&rdquo; campaign.</p><p>&ldquo;We are all committed to working together to ensure safe, loving homes and brighter futures for children,&rdquo;&nbsp; Roger Eddy, director of IASB, in a press release. &ldquo;School board members across Illinois understand that children can&rsquo;t do their homework if they don&rsquo;t have a safe home to go to at night, or their home is in chaos because of abuse or domestic violence.&rdquo;</p><p>The campaign features posters and social media advertising urging kids to report their abuse.</p><p>The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services started sending out posters to schools last month.</p><p>It carries a simple message: &ldquo;You are not alone.&rdquo;</p><p>DCFS spokesman Dave Clarkin says in addition to getting more reports, the department wants to combat the feeling of isolation that comes when children are abused.</p><p>On the same day that the statewide groups pledged their support, DCFS added a crucial school district to its coalition: Chicago Public Schools and its roughly 400,000 students.</p><p>Clarkin says it&rsquo;s important for kids to report their own abuse, because too many Illinois adults are letting them down.</p><p>&ldquo;One in five kids in Illinois are abused or neglected before they turn 18, and unfortunately children tell an average of seven adults that they&rsquo;re being abused or neglected before an adult calls the hotline,&rdquo; Clarkin said. &ldquo;All nine million adults in Illinois have a shared responsibility to report abuse and neglect. Unfortunately not every adult lives up to that responsibility and when that&rsquo;s the case we want to make sure that children know that helps is available.&rdquo;</p><p>Clarkin says the department already gets more information from children who are siblings of kids being abused than they do from other adult relatives. He said sometimes children as young as 6 call the hotline to report the abuse of their brother or sister.</p><p>The posters - in both English and Spanish - are being sent out to more than 600 Illinois school districts. The department estimates the posters will reach about 1.5 million students.</p><p>&ldquo;If children haven&rsquo;t seen them already they should [soon]. But the folks at our hotline report that we&rsquo;re already seeing an increase in calls to the hotline, so it looks like the campaign is working.&rdquo;</p><p>The campaign urges children who are being abused to call the DCFS hotline at 1-800-252-2873.</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> Wed, 02 Oct 2013 16:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/education-groups-help-fight-against-child-abuse-108829 Lawmakers: Federal involvement needed to curb illegal gun trafficking http://www.wbez.org/news/lawmakers-federal-involvement-needed-curb-illegal-gun-trafficking-108456 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Gun Checks_130819_AYC.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Lawmakers said Illinois&rsquo;s new gun law needs federal involvement to truly stop or even curb illegal gun trafficking.</p><p>Illinois Governor Pat Quinn this weekend signed a new law that requires gun owners to report within 72 hours any lost or stolen gun .</p><p>The law also requires background checks for all gun purchases, including private sales.</p><p>But State Senator Kwame Raoul said there&rsquo;s more to be done.</p><p>&ldquo;We can continue to do (more) at the state level, but the reality is a lot of the gun trafficking occurs across the state lines,&rdquo; Raoul said. &ldquo;Enacting law is only one measure that we can do to combat gun violence, but we also need the help from the federal level.&rdquo;</p><p>Cook County State&rsquo;s Attorney Anita Alvarez said the new requirement gives police more control in keeping track of illegal firearms.</p><p>&ldquo;This lost or stolen requirement will help police identify suspicious patterns of behavior by persons who fail to file reports yet continually claim their guns were lost or stolen after they are recovered at a crime scene,&rdquo; she said in a press release.</p><p>Illinois is the 9th state to require the reporting of lost or stolen guns. Michigan and Ohio are the only two nearby states with the same requirement.</p><p>The reporting requirement takes effect immediately, and the new background check system will start in the beginning of next year.</p><p><em>Aimee Chen is a WBEZ business reporting intern. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/AimeeYuyiChen">@AimeeYuyiChen</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 19 Aug 2013 16:05:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/lawmakers-federal-involvement-needed-curb-illegal-gun-trafficking-108456 Chicago updates assault weapons ban http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-updates-assault-weapons-ban-108086 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/fio.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Chicago aldermen acknowledge that the tweaks made to the city&rsquo;s assault weapons ban today won&rsquo;t do much to prevent violence.</p><p dir="ltr">But, they said, it is the best they can do.</p><p dir="ltr">The Chicago City Council voted to add to the list of so-called assault weapons banned in the city, and--in a separate ordinance-- to increase fines against people caught with a gun near a school.</p><p dir="ltr">The state&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-legislature-passes-concealed-carry-bill-awaits-quinns-signature-107417">new concealed carry law</a> allowed cities until Friday to update or create bans on military-style rifles.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Now this isn&rsquo;t going to cure everything, but we have a window and it would be irresponsible and reckless not to take this window and make sure that our laws were toughened,&rdquo; Mayor Rahm Emanuel said.</p><p dir="ltr">Some critics were disappointed that the ordinance introduced by Emanuel didn&rsquo;t include stiffer punishments for owning the banned weapons.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The question is why wouldn&rsquo;t we [increase the penalties]?&rdquo; asked Ald. Carrie Austin (34th).</p><p dir="ltr">Austin, however, voted along with the rest of the city council to approve the amendment to the 1992 assault weapons ban.</p><p dir="ltr">Even without an increase in penalties, Austin said she still believes the changes will make a difference.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Everyone says this is just something to just feel good, feel fuzzy. No. I don&rsquo;t do things that are just feel good, feel fuzzy. I want to do things that are going to have some teeth to it,&rdquo; Austin said.</p><p dir="ltr">Ald. Robert Fioretti (2nd) said the amendment is essentially toothless, saying the assault weapons ban needs harsher penalties, and the state&rsquo;s attorney needs to enforce the ban.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Otherwise, why did we have this meeting today?&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Fioretti said Chicago&rsquo;s ban on assault weapons has had &ldquo;very limited effect&rdquo; since it was created.</p><p dir="ltr">In a committee meeting the day before, and again at the council meeting today, Fioretti asked city officials how many people had been shot with an assault weapon in the past two years in Chicago.</p><p dir="ltr">He said he still hasn&rsquo;t received an answer.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;From what I&rsquo;ve [heard] from people in the police department it is &hellip; one person,&rdquo; Fioretti said. But he said that number hasn&rsquo;t been confirmed by the department.</p><p dir="ltr">The Chicago Police Department said in a statement that about 4 percent of all guns recovered this year were so-called assault weapons.</p><p dir="ltr">Fioretti also seemed skeptical of another public safety ordinance, this one introduced by the mayor and who said it is meant to help improve safety for school children.</p><p dir="ltr">That ordinance, which also passed unanimously today, creates school safety zones within 1,000 feet of schools.</p><p dir="ltr">Under the new ordinance, anyone convicted of possessing a gun near schools, on buses or along designed Safe Passage routes could face up to a $5,000 fine and up to six months incarceration, with punishment increasing for repeat offenders.</p><p dir="ltr">Fioretti said he thinks the law will create more confusion than anything else.</p><p dir="ltr">But Fenger High School Principal Liz Dozier said the new law will help make students safer.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We have to start doing things to make our communities a safer place for our kids to go to and from school,&rdquo; Dozier said. &ldquo;Our kids need to be focused more on their studies than &hellip; being concerned about their safety.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Dozier said the new laws &ldquo;won&rsquo;t fix everything,&rdquo; but they are a good step.</p><p dir="ltr">Pounding the podium as he addressed the city council, the mayor &nbsp;insisted on the importance of the school safety ordinance.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Today&rsquo;s votes are the right things to do,&rdquo; Emanuel said. &ldquo;We stepped up for our children. The weak link to protect our streets are our gun laws.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Emanuel and several aldermen spent some time complaining about the state&rsquo;s new concealed carry law.</p><p dir="ltr">One after another, city council members stood to say they are doing all they can, but that the real power to improve gun laws lies with state and federal lawmakers.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Down in Springfield we have a battle,&rdquo; Emanuel said.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Patrick Smith is a WBEZ reporter. Follow him on twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/pksmid">@pksmid</a></em></p></p> Wed, 17 Jul 2013 11:28:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-updates-assault-weapons-ban-108086 Unwelcome summer break for Chicago violence prevention program http://www.wbez.org/news/unwelcome-summer-break-chicago-violence-prevention-program-107959 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Ceasefire_sh.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Every June, Ceasefire sites across Chicago get an email saying that their program will shut down starting July 1st, and until further notice.</p><p>That&rsquo;s because it&rsquo;s the beginning of the state&rsquo;s fiscal year, and there is a gap before when the state sends out money and the organization can process it.</p><p>Many social service programs face a similar funding gap.&nbsp; But Josh Gryniewicz of Ceasefire says that it&rsquo;s particularly challenging for Ceasefire. Summer months are violent and it&rsquo;s when the program&rsquo;s staff, who intervene conflicts, are most needed.</p><p>&ldquo;It just an unfortunate perfect storm,&rdquo; said Gryniewicz.</p><p>In the past, workers have been on hiatus anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 months.<br />But Gryniewicz expects this year to be the shortest gap yet. That&rsquo;s because all the ceasefire sites got their budgets in ahead of time and the program is getting help streamlining the budget process.</p><p>A handful of Ceasefire sites with additional funding are still in operation.The program is looking for individual donations to keep other programs open.</p><p><em>Shannon Heffernan is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/shannon_h">@shannon_h</a></em></p></p> Fri, 05 Jul 2013 12:10:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/unwelcome-summer-break-chicago-violence-prevention-program-107959