ARCHIVES

A Truce in the War on Drugs? Part II.

by Mary C. Piemonte 

Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson. Photo by Mary C. Piemonte.

Editor’s Note: The article below was produced as part of the Social Justice News Nexus, a program launched this year by Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications with a two-year grant from the McCormick Foundation.

Will Drug Courts Ease Prison Overcrowding?

Drug courts are becoming an increasingly popular topic of conversation among elected officials as they scramble to find solutions to punitive sentences for those charged with low-level drug-related crimes.

A large majority of these nonviolent offenders – with dependencies on alcohol, prescription and street drugs – are particularly hard hit with sentences that can lead some to life imprisonment.

In an exclusive interview in early February, U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin said he was “absolutely” in favor of the use of drug courts as an alternative means to incarcerations for low-level non-violent drug offenders. He added that money saved from imprisonment costs would be funneled into the use of more of them.

“What we’re trying to do is focus this money back into drug courts, which bring in people who would otherwise be prosecuted. [People] who they would say, ‘This isn’t criminal. This is an addict. Let’s deal with them that way.’ Do it for veterans. I think that makes more sense if you deal with a person whose real crime is addiction. Let’s get to them early before the addiction becomes even worse.”

Read more »

Tags: , , , , ,
Categories: Homepage Investigative Reporting

A Truce in the War on Drugs? Part I.

by Mary C. Piemonte 

U.S. Se. Dick Durbin from Illinois speaks at a recent conference on reforming the War on Drugs. Photo by Mary C. Piemonte.

Editor’s Note: The article below was produced as part of the Social Justice News Nexus, a program launched this year by Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications with a two-year grant from the McCormick Foundation.

Now that American prisons are swollen to capacity with thousands of non-violent, low-level drug offenders, public officials – like powerhouse U.S. Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL), the majority whip, and even some judges – are shifting their attitudes about the War on Drugs.

Many of the inmates have addictions and many have been given harsh punitive sentences, including life without parole, after being charged with possession of small amounts of crack or powder cocaine, heroin or methamphetamine under laws established decades ago.

This growing number of officials are currently meeting around the country to rethink the drug war while modifying policies and revising procedures for charging and sentencing offenders under old drug laws.

All this is done in a drastic attempt to reduce the enormous costs to taxpayers of the criminal justice and prison systems while trying to rectify the disproportionate number of African Americans and Latinos locked behind cold steel bars.

Read more »

Tags: , , , , ,
Categories: Homepage

What Can Drive a Person to Murder?

by Tatiana Minter 

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in our Urban Youth International Journalism Program in partnership with Paul Robeson High School in the Englewood neighborhood. The UYIJP is generously funded by the McCormick Foundation.

Have you ever wondered what causes someone to act on violent impulses or commit a murder?

Amber Johnson, 18, a Paul Robeson student, responded, “Stress, no money, no job, childhood experiences, etc.” People are often confronted with feelings of disappointment, frustration and anger as they interact with government officials, co-workers, family and friends. Sometimes mistakes are made and the victim of a murder turns out to not be the intended target of the one who committed it. In my opinion, this urge to kill comes from built-up anger inside of that person which they have failed to release. It’s so powerful because people hold things inside of them forever and never talk about their problems. Some people are not able to control their anger by doing stuff they enjoy or talking to someone they trust to relieve stress.

Read more »

Tags: , , , , , , ,
Categories: Homepage UYIJP

CHA Chiefs Come and Go as Plan Stalls

by Mary C. Piemonte 

 

New CHA CEO Michael Merchant at a Nov. 19 CHA Board meeting in the ABLA Homes public housing development. Photo by Mary C. Piemonte.

Michael Merchant, previously the city’s buildings commissioner, recently became the fifth CHA CEO since the inception of the Plan for Transformation, a multi-billion dollar effort to overhaul and redevelop family and senior public housing stock into mixed-income communities that began in 2000 and is now projected to conclude in 2015.

Merchant told RJ after the Nov. 19 CHA Board meeting at the Fosco Park Field house in the ABLA public housing complex that he was confident he would complete the Plan during his tenure.

“I have every intention of being here to finish out the Plan,” Merchant said. “With respect to the fact that there has been turnover in this position, there’s still consistency within the staff, consistency with what the mission is, and what the goal is. Our goal is to make sure that we have vibrant communities and safe and affordable housing. So, I’m here to push full forward.”

Read more »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
Categories: Homepage

We The People Media in the News

by Ethan Michaeli, Publisher 

We The People Media Executive Director Ethan Michaeli appeared recently on CAN TV’s “Chicago Newsroom,” with guest host and WBEZ reporter Natalie Moore as well as Britt Julious, WBEZ blogger, and Achy Obejas, an award-winning author and also a WBEZ blogger. They discussed the state of public housing and Chicago’s neglected neighborhoods.

Click here to watch.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Categories: Homepage Video

Meet the Real Robeson High School

by Secret Blackman 

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in our Urban Youth International Journalism Program, which is generously funded by the McCormick Foundation.

How is it really at Robeson High School in the Englewood neighborhood on the South Side? A lot of people misjudge Robeson because of what they see on the news. Many people might think all Robeson students don’t know anything and fight every day. But what they don’t know is that many kids in Robeson have great talents and are very smart. I currently attend Robeson and it’s very different than what people say. I interviewed some Robeson students to give a fuller picture of the student body, their views on the school, and the violence that is an issue in Englewood.

Shanika Chavis is a freshman who works after school and likes to “goof off with friends.” She said there are not too many gangs at Robeson. She wants to be a teacher because she likes to help people. She said the school “is interesting because you learn different things and you can use them later on in life.” She thinks gangbanging is “stupid and makes no sense.” There are “wild students” at Robeson but added that “if they were more focused on their work they could be better students.” She thinks the school could change for the better if people were “more focused on the kids instead of their behavior.”

Read more »

Tags: , , , , , , ,
Categories: Homepage UYIJP

We The People Media ED on “Chicago Newsroom”

by Ethan Michaeli, Publisher 

We The People Media Executive Director Ethan Michaeli was recently featured on an episode of “Chicago Newsroom,” hosted by Ken Davis. Ethan appeared along with Alden Loury from the Better Government Association, discussing a wide range of issues, from violence affecting young people in the city to gun control to local politics. Click here to watch the episode: http://chicagonewsroom.org/2013/02/22/cn-february-21-2013/

Tags: , , , , ,
Categories: Homepage

CAC Releases Vision for the Future

by Ethan Michaeli, Publisher 

September 12, 2012 -Elected leaders of Chicago’s public housing families today issued the 2012 Strategies and Recommendations Report, a comprehensive vision for the future that would see the city provide quality housing to many more low-income families who need it in these tough economic times.

Twelve years after the Plan for Transformation for the Chicago Housing Authority was launched by Mayor Richard M. Daley, much work remains to be done. All of the city’s public housing high-rises for families have been demolished and a small number of mixed-finance communities have been built, but large tracts of land across the South and West sides remain vacant, awaiting a new vision that will deal with the realities of the current housing market. CHA remains the landlord, meanwhile, for more than 130,000 people in low-rise family developments, senior citizen high-rises and private apartments rented through the Housing Choice Voucher program.

Read more »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Categories: Homepage Uncategorized

Winners from the Resident Survey!

by Ethan Michaeli, Publisher 

generic cialis2 pic of Ethan Myra King and winners of survery-1″ src=”http://wethepeoplemedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Marys-8-8-12-pic-of-Ethan-Myra-King-and-winners-of-survery-12-768×1024.jpg” alt=”" width=”377″ height=”502″ /> Central Advisory Council President Myra King (center) congratulates Mable L. Carter (left) and Deborah Thigpen (right), winners of the random drawing for the 2012 Resident Survey. We The People Media Executive Director Ethan Michaeli stands in the background. Photo by Mary C. Piemonte.

The 2012 Resident Survey of Chicago public housing tenants conducted by We The People Media received an unprecedented response – more than 500 residents provided their opinions on a range of issues. Among other findings, residents strongly oppose term limits, a policy which is being tried by a small number of public housing agencies in other part of the country. Residents also showed strong opposition to expanded drug testing but were highly enthusiastic about initiatives that offer training and employment.

The Resident Survey was conducted both on-line and in print from May 7 through June 1. The Central Advisory Council commissioned the survey from We The People Media and Local Advisory Councils in Oakwood Shores, Cabrini-Green Row Houses, Dearborn Homes, Princeton Park, Altgeld Gardens, Lathrop Homes, Trumbull Park, Lowden Homes, Wentworth Gardens, ABLA Homes, West Haven Homes, Washington Park Homes, Scattered Sites and senior buildings throughout the South, West and North sides assisted with distribution and collection of the print version.

Read more »

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
Categories: Homepage

Stray Dogs in Englewood

by Tyreshia Black 

This dog happens to be behind a fence, but many canines roam the Englewood neighborhood off the leash, terrifying pedestrians. Photo by Tyreshia Black.

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in the Urban Youth International Journalism Program in partnership with Imagine Englewood If, a youth services organization based in that South Side neighborhood.

The dog had white and gray fur, and blue piercing eyes. Its teeth were long and yellow. The ears on its head were perked up. The dog’s face looked angry and determined to kill.

I encountered this dog while walking out of my house on a normal day to school. I was about a block from my home when the dog came around the corner. When I saw him, I quickly stopped walking, attracting his attention. The dog gazed at me, like a wolf staring at a deer in the forest.

As we locked eyes, he made the first move and circled me about three times before he sniffed my leg and shoes. I felt an urge to run but I knew what would happen next – he would kill me.

Read more »

Tags: , , , ,
Categories: Homepage UYIJP