About 50 people gathered Thursday to protest the city’s process for deciding to use a Chicago Park District facility in Edgewater to shelter asylum seekers. The city has been under a state of emergency for months as it seeks to house the 11,500 migrants who’ve been bused or flown in from Texas.
Stories by Brandis Friedman
Jul 27, 2023 | Brandis Friedman
Jul 24, 2023 | Brandis Friedman
Free Spirit Media is a nonprofit that works with young people 11 to 25 years of age from the West and South sides of Chicago. Staff members work to teach students to create media arts projects, like short films and news stories, to amplify their own voices.
From Mobility Issues to Alzheimer’s and Cancer, Advocates Say Illinois Prisons Are Struggling to Care for an Aging Population
Jun 7, 2023 | Brandis Friedman
More than half of IDOC inmates serving a life sentence are 55 or older. Caring for an aging prison population is a costly endeavor, advocates say, and the health care elderly prisoners do receive often falls short. That’s why some are calling for a new parole system.
53% of IDOC Inmates Serving Life Sentences Are Over Age 55. Advocates Call for Giving Some a Second Chance
Jun 6, 2023 | Brandis Friedman
In 1978, Illinois shifted from an indeterminate to a determinate sentencing system — effectively eliminating parole as most people are familiar with it. Now some advocates are calling for changes to allow inmates over 55 the chance to be paroled.
Outside of Pontiac Prison’s Walls, Area Residents See the Facility as Important Part of the Community
May 2, 2023 | Brandis Friedman
The town is also home to Pontiac Correctional Center, one of only three maximum security Illinois state prisons. Just outside the prison’s doors is a neighborhood of single-family homes and a playground.
Inside Pontiac Prison Where Mental Health Issues, Violence, Officer Shortages and Aging Facilities Are Leading to Calls for Reform
May 1, 2023 | Brandis Friedman
The conditions that come with Pontiac Correctional Center’s age are just part of the reason inmates and advocates call it inhumane. Another reason is the climate inside. WTTW News details the issues facing the maximum security prison.
Former IDOC Director on Plans for Pontiac Prison, Home to State’s Highest Concentration of ‘Seriously Mentally Ill’ Incarcerated People
Apr 29, 2023 | Brandis Friedman
Among Pontiac Prison’s challenges is its status as the most short-staffed facility in IDOC. But former director Rob Jeffreys said having a lower incarceration rate could work in the agency’s favor.
After Months of Worry, ‘Big Little Miracles’ Born Via Ukrainian Surrogate Finally Arrive Home in Highland Park
Dec 1, 2022 | Brandis Friedman
From Ukraine to Highland Park, twin sisters Ellie and Natanya Sterling have taken their parents on the ride of a lifetime.
Nov 17, 2022 | Brandis Friedman
Brian Wallach and his wife, Sandra Abrevaya, founded I AM ALS to find a cure for the disease and to advocate for those who have the progressive neurodegenerative disease.
Permanent Punishment: In Illinois, People with Criminal Records Can Still Vote. Advocates Are Working to Make Them Aware.
Oct 27, 2022 | Brandis Friedman
When people are incarcerated in Illinois prisons, they cannot vote until they are released and re-registered to vote.
Oct 10, 2022 | Brandis Friedman
One of the legal system’s goals should be finding ways to reintegrate people back into society after they have completed their sentences, says Patrick O’Brien.
Permanent Punishment, Part 4: Sealed Records, Expungement and Clemency Involve Complicated Mix of Paperwork and Expenses
Oct 6, 2022 | Brandis Friedman
Though there are about 1,300 permanent punishments on the books in Illinois — and countless more that aren’t — there are only a handful of ways to get around them. They often involve a complicated mix of paperwork and expenses. The records sealing or expungement process, for example, involves filing a petition in court, costing around $157 per charge.
Oct 5, 2022 | Brandis Friedman
Many people who’ve been impacted by the criminal legal system say they frequently face problems finding employment. Some local organizations are helping people build new skills, while others are aiming to address laws and licensing requirements.
Oct 4, 2022 | Brandis Friedman
The reasons women commit crimes are different, and often overlooked, researchers say. And since 58% of incarcerated women are mothers to children under 18, the permanent punishments they face affect not only them, but their entire families.
Permanent Punishment, Part 1: Nearly 1,300 State Laws Prevent People with Criminal Records from Moving On After Serving Their Sentences
Oct 3, 2022 | Brandis Friedman
In Illinois, an estimated 3.3 million people have criminal records, which can include everything from an arrest to years spent in prison. But even once their criminal case has run its course, the punishment continues. Those who know the system best are working to make change for those looking to rebuild their lives.
Oct 3, 2022 | Brandis Friedman
A list of resources for formally incarcarated people and the organizations working to support them.
Through Unique Program, Men in Prison Overcome Challenges to Earn Degrees from Northwestern University
Aug 17, 2022 | Brandis Friedman
While many schools will offer classes for credit to prison inmates, Northwestern University says its the only top 10 school that grants degrees to prisoners. And next spring, students at Stateville Correctional Center, a maximum-security prison in Will County, will be the first to receive their bachelor's degrees from Northwestern while in prison.
After Highland Park Couple’s Surrogate Escaped Ukraine, They Now Wait to Bring Their Premature Twins Home
May 25, 2022 | Brandis Friedman
A suburban couple’s Ukrainian surrogate — who had been moved to the Czech Republic — delivered their twin babies by emergency C-section at just 27 weeks. The early news was just the latest nerve-wracking development in what has been months of tense waiting.
May 9, 2022 | Brandis Friedman
Chicago, Cook County and several surrounding counties have all recently been designated as being at “medium risk” of their residents contracting COVID-19.
Mar 24, 2022 | Brandis Friedman
In the last five years, Ukraine has emerged as the second-most popular destination for surrogacy, only behind the United States, in part because some nations outlawed surrogacy.
Dec 4, 2021 | Brandis Friedman
Many Black women may be familiar with the cosmetics brand Fashion Fair — founded in 1973 by Eunice Johnson, wife of John Johnson, the Black publishing magnate behind Ebony and Jet magazines.
Aug 30, 2021 | Brandis Friedman
For the first time in 17 months, Chicago Public Schools students returned to the classroom for full-time, in-person learning Monday. At some schools, the mayor was there to welcome them back.
Aug 8, 2021 | Brandis Friedman
As journalists, we often work to avoid becoming part of the stories we cover. But sometimes, the story is part of us. Last month, my friend Sonya Anderson’s stepson was shot and killed, just two days before his 19th birthday. We sit down for an intimate conversation about gun violence.
Jun 20, 2021 | Brandis Friedman
From the Civil War to the civil rights movement and everything in between, the lives of these prominent Black Chicagoans are educating others. We visit Oak Woods Cemetery for a lesson.
Jun 9, 2021 | Brandis Friedman
Breaking the cycle of drug and alcohol addiction is a challenge made even tougher once the criminal justice system gets involved. A new program is helping those recovering find refuge in their own homes.
Apr 16, 2021 | Brandis Friedman
Chicago Public Schools high school students will return to the classroom on Monday if teachers agree to the framework announced Thursday by the district and the Chicago Teachers Union.