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Shannon Heffernan

Shannon Heffernan


Shannon is a criminal justice reporter. She's also reported on mental health, poverty, labor and climate change. 

Her reporting has earned her a National Murrow Award for best writing and a PRINDI for best writing, as well as awards from the Illinois AP and Chicago Headline Club. 

Shannon also writes short fictional stories and has been published Hobart, The Indiana Review and The Columbia Review, where she won the 2016 prize for fiction.

She co-founded of Life of the Law, a podcast and multimedia website that tells surprising stories about all things legal.

Recent Stories

WBEZ Updates

Transgender Women In Prison Sue Over Access To Health Care

Transgender women are filing a class action lawsuit against the Illinois Department of Corrections over access to health care.

WBEZ Updates

State Rep. Proposes Legislation To Ensure People Who Post Bail Aren't Denied Public Defenders

An Illinois bill to ensure poor people get public defenders, even if they post bail.

WBEZ Updates

Senators Hear From Controversial Chicago Circuit Court Nominee

On Wednesday, U.S. senators heard from President Trump’s controversial nominee to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago.

WBEZ Updates

DOC, Transgender Inmate Reach Agreement

The Illinois Department of Corrections and a transgender inmate asking to be moved to a women’s prison have reached an agreement.

WBEZ Updates

Officials Vote On Nearly $31M Wrongful Conviction Settlement For 'Englewood Four'

Chicago City Council’s finance committee voted Monday to pay out $31 million to four men who say they were coerced into giving false confessions by police.

Curious City

Where Does Your Poop Go?

Curious City finds out where your poop goes by taking a journey through the Chicago-area sewer system.

WBEZ Updates

Cook County Officials Say They Are Working To Reduce Upcoming Layoffs

Cook County officials say they are working on a plan that would reduce the number of layoffs that could be voted on at Tuesday's budget hearing.

WBEZ Updates

Report: Youth Confinement Dropped 60 Percent Over The Last Decade

The number of kids confined by the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice has dropped by 60 percent in the last decade.


Ex-President Barack Obama Shows Up In Chicago For Jury Duty

Former President Barack Obama, free of a job that forced him to move to Washington for eight years, showed up to a downtown Chicago courthouse for jury duty on Wednesday morning.

WBEZ Updates

Some Alderman Say There's Not Enough Black And Latino CPD Hires

As the Chicago Police Department says it’s ramping up officer hiring, some Aldermen are critical that not enough black and Latino people are getting jobs.

WBEZ Updates

Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans Touts New Bail Policy's Savings

Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans is touting the financial savings of his new bail policy.


Some Cook County Judges Deny Public Defenders When Defendants Post Bond

Legal experts say the practice is unconstitutional and efforts to stop it have fallen short.

WBEZ Updates

Advocates Warn Budget Cuts Could Devastate Legal System

Legal advocates are warning that expected budget cuts in Cook County could devastate the legal system.


No Strategy To Review Bail For Thousands In Cook County Jail

Judges have been told to start setting affordable bail, but what does that mean for those already in jail?

WBEZ Updates

When A Murder Goes Unsolved In Chicago

A Chicago nonprofit is helping families navigate life after a relative is murdered-- including when a case goes unsolved.

WBEZ Updates

Communities Seek Official Role In Police Abuse Negotiations

Communities who say they’ve suffered from police violence want an official role in negotiating a court agreement to address police abuse in Chicago.

WBEZ Updates

Cook County Attorneys Ask Judge To Dismiss Bail System Case

Cook County attorneys are asking a judge to dismiss a case over the county’s bail system.


Why Are There 2 Lawsuits Calling For Federal Oversight Of Chicago Police Reform?

What’s at stake is who will have an official say in defining what police reform will look like.


CPS Students Will Learn History Of Chicago Police Torture

Starting this year, 8th and 10th graders will learn about how police beat, starved and electrocuted suspects into making false confessions.


Chicago Police Sergeant Placed On Desk Duty After Shooting

An off-duty sergeant who shot and wounded a young man has been indefinitely relieved of his police powers as an investigation takes place.

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