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Cheryl Corley

Cheryl Corley is a Chicago-based NPR correspondent who works for the National Desk. She primarily covers criminal justice issues as well as breaking news in the Midwest and across the country.

In her role as a criminal justice correspondent, Corley works as part of a collaborative team and has a particular interest on issues and reform efforts that affect women, girls, and juveniles. She's reported on programs that help incarcerated mothers raise babies in prison, on pre-apprenticeships in prison designed to help cut recidivism of women, on the efforts by Illinois officials to rethink the state's juvenile justice system and on the push to revamp the use of solitary confinement in North Dakota prisons.

For more than two decades with NPR, Corley has covered some of the country's most important news stories. She's reported on the political turmoil in Virginia over the governor's office and a blackface photo, the infamous Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida, on mass shootings in Orlando, Florida; Charleston, South Carolina; Chicago; and other locations. She's also reported on the election of Chicago's first black female and lesbian mayor, on the campaign and re-election of President Barack Obama, on the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina and oil spills along the Gulf Coast, as well as numerous other disasters, and on the funeral of the "queen of soul," Aretha Franklin.

Corley also has served as a fill-in host for NPR shows, including Weekend All Things Considered, Morning Edition, and defunct shows Tell Me More and News and Notes.

Prior to joining NPR, Corley was the news director at Chicago's public radio station, WBEZ, where she supervised an award-winning team of reporters. She also worked as the City Hall reporter covering the administration of the city's first black mayor, Harold Washington, and others that followed. She also has been a frequent panelist on television news-affairs programs in Chicago.

Corley has received awards for her work from a number of organizations including the National Association of Black Journalists, the Associated Press, the Public Radio News Directors Association, and the Society of Professional Journalists. She earned the Community Media Workshop's Studs Terkel Award for excellence in reporting on Chicago's diverse communities and a Herman Kogan Award for reporting on immigration issues.

A Chicago native, Corley graduated cum laude from Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, and is a former Bradley University trustee. While in Peoria, Corley worked as a reporter and news director for public radio station WCBU and as a television director for the NBC affiliate, WEEK-TV. She is a past President of the Association for Women Journalists in Chicago (AWJ-Chicago).

She is also the co-creator of the Cindy Bandle Young Critics Program. The critics/journalism training program for female high school students was originally collaboration between AWJ-Chicago and the Goodman Theatre. Corley has also served as a board member and president of Community Television Network, an organization that trains Chicago youth in video and multimedia production.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Jury selection begins Wednesday in the murder trial for Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke. The officer, who is white, is accused of killing 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, who is black, as he walked down the middle of a city street holding a knife.

The case has come to embody many of the political and racial tensions that grip the city, and the massive distrust between communities of color and police. In fact, one protest chant has become a mantra in the case: "Sixteen shots and a cover-up."

Despite a dip in shootings and murders for the year, Chicago suffered one of its bloodiest weekends in recent history last weekend. Police say 33 shootings occurred between Friday and Sunday nights, fueled mostly by gang violence. The incidents left a dozen people dead and dozens wounded. Now, the city's mayor and police superintendent say the city's residents who live in troubled areas of the city should do more to help stop the bloodshed.

The violence occurred between 6 p.m. Friday and 11:59 p.m. Sunday night. Nearly 70 people including several children were wounded.

There are slightly more than 2 million people incarcerated in the United States — that's nearly equal to the entire population of Houston. Among those prisoners, thousands serve time in solitary confinement, isolated in small often windowless cells for 22 to 24 hours a day. Some remain isolated for weeks, months or even years.

"You're shut off from the world and you wait," says Olay Silva, a 41-year-old inmate serving time in Bismarck, N.D.'s maximum-security prison. Silva spent six months in solitary after he was involved in a stabbing. "You just sit there and wait."

With the rise of videos showing violent and often deadly encounters between police and citizens, there's also been an increase in the creation or expansion of civilian oversight groups to monitor police departments. Today, there are about 18,000 police departments in the U.S. and, according to the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement, there are about 200 civilian groups that monitor police.

Community groups that pushed for changes in the Chicago Police Department will now be able to weigh in on reform efforts being negotiated by the city and state attorney general.

They reached the agreement this week following months of sometimes heated talks after the city waffled on how to overhaul the troubled police department.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

All over America today, students staged walkouts to protest school shootings. Let's hear now from Chicago where students rallied against the wider epidemic of gun violence in their city. NPR's Cheryl Corley has this report.

No one knows how many people wrongfully convicted of crimes are in prison, but last year 139 of them were exonerated. That's a drop from 2016, when there were 171 such cases.

The numbers released today by the National Registry of Exonerations shows that Texas still led the nation with 23 exonerees last year followed by Illinois (21), Michigan (14) and New York (13).

A fatal police shooting in Kansas late last month focused attention again on how so-called swatting — prank 911 calls designed to get SWAT teams to deploy — puts lives at risk and burdens police departments.

There are more than 7,000 911 centers in the U.S. and, according to the National Emergency Number Association, they receive about 600,000 calls a day. Authorities don't track swatting calls nationally, though the FBI has been monitoring the practice of those types of fake calls for about a decade.

Today in Chicago, Judge Leroy Martin threw out the convictions of 15 men in what defense attorneys call a landmark decision and the "first mass exoneration" in Cook County. The men, who all served prison terms, claim they were framed by former Chicago Police Sgt. Ronald Watts and officers under his command. One of the men, Leonard Gipson, spent four years in prison and says Watts would demand money and then drugs on a person and arrest them if he was not paid.

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