Social Justice

Juvenile-justice report: Incarceration doesn’t rehabilitate but family-based programs might

By Giulia Petroni
Medill Reports

Family-focused and community-based approaches are more effective than incarceration in rehabilitating offenders and creating safe communities, according to a new report on Illinois’ juvenile-justice system.

Even when performing at their best, traditional prison-based systems not only fail in adequately supporting development and rehabilitation, but also cause an increase of costs and recidivism rates, according to the Children and Family Justice Center.

Being in detention for any length of time increases the risk of a youth’s being incarcerated as an adult, the report revealed.

“Cook County youth who were sent to juvenile detention were twice as likely -as youth with the same backgrounds who were not detained due to more lenient judges- to be incarcerated in an adult prison by the age of 25,” according to the report.

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Chicago’s Working Bikes empowers riders across the globe

By Nathan Ouellette
Medill Reports

Traffic along  Western Avenue south of the Loop is often congested. Yet a reprieve from the pandemonium of horns and speeding cars can be found at the corner of Western Avenue and 24th Place, amid a dense forest of refurbished bicycles, at Working Bikes bike shop. 

Working Bikes is more than just a used bike shop offering rebuilt cycles and spare parts at affordable prices. Sales only make up a fraction of the not-for-profit’s operation, as volunteers stockpile abandoned and donated bikes and refurbish them for donation programs locally in Chicago and globally from Africa to Latin America.

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Activists and business leaders come together to combat gentrification in Pilsen

By Jessica Villagomez

On a cold autumn evening on November 30, La Catrina Café, located in the Chicago neighborhood of Pilsen, transformed into a space meant for discussion.

The café, which has a spacious lounge for customers to eat and drink traditional Mexican treats, reinvented itself in the span of half an hour. Small tables that filled the open lounge were pushed to the side. Folded chairs lined the center of the space, facing toward the small stage in the corner of the room.

The temporary reorganization was due to an event hosted by Pilsen Alliance meant to foster open discussion among business owners and residents of the community.

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Women’s March participant uses event as platform for Puerto Rico

By Yvaine Ye
Medill Reports

Among 300 thousand others who gathered in downtown Chicago for Women’s March two weeks ago, there was Liseth Carpenter, holding a sign with both Puerto Rican and American flags attached. Aside from the universal theme of equal rights for women, Carpenter was also protesting over the unequal treatment she says Puerto Rico received after the hurricanes.

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Artists track 100 years of Chicago police violence to fight against it

Xiaozhang(Shaw) Wan
Medill Reports

Artworks about 100 years of Chicago police violence are on exhibition “to help people better understand what led to present circumstances,” according to the exhibition brochure.

The exhibition, “Do Not Resist: 100 Years of Chicago Police Violence,” is open through varying February dates, with different works on display at the Hairpin Arts Center, Art in These Times and etc. in Chicago. Continue reading

10-year-old social entrepreneur’s ‘Blessing Bags’ raise awareness about homelessness

By Eunice Wang
Medill Reports

Ten-year-old Jahkil Jackson is a young social entrepreneur who founded Project I Am — an organization to help the homeless — two years ago. He brings street comfort to homeless people with what he calls “blessing bags.”

Teaming up with volunteers from different local organizations, Jahkil passed out 5,000 blessing bags by the end of 2017. His compassion for the homeless has won him a 2017 Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes and attention from former president Barack Obama on Twitter. He said he is planning to distribute 6,000 blessing bags this year.

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Women’s March draws more than 300,000 to Grant Park

By Xiaozhang(Shaw) Wan

One year after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, more than 300,000 marchers joined the second annual Women’s March in Chicago. They rallied for the votes in November to defeat Trump’s policies and called for more women candidates.

“If we don’t register to vote, register our friends and neighbors, knock on doors, support other women who run for office and run for office ourselves, we will continue to be marginalized,” said Toni Preckwinkle, one of several speakers.

A large turnout of immigrants and children participated. Launching a large voter turnout for the 2018 elections, defending women’s reproductive rights and protecting immigrants were among the priorities for marchers.

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Jews have been the target of most hate crimes this year, Chicago police data shows

By Caroline Tanner
Medill Reports

There have been 50 reported hate crimes in Chicago during the first nine months of 2017, according to data released by the Chicago Police Department in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

This follows a 20 percent rise in hate crimes in Chicago from 2015 to 2016, from 60 to 72 reported incidents, aligning with a national increase in hate crimes across the country. Many attribute rising hate crimes to the heated rhetoric of President Donald Trump and an increasingly polarized political climate.

In this year’s data, religion and race each account for 42 percent of total reported hate crimes in Chicago.
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Volunteers open their homes to those traveling to Chicago for abortions

By Sofi LaLonde
Medill Reports

A blue state among red states in the Midwest, Illinois is often considered an “oasis” for reproductive health care when it comes to access to abortion. But even with less-restrictive abortion policies, clinics in the state are concentrated in Chicago, leaving gaps in access for women statewide, particularly in southern parts of the state.

For the women who travel from all parts of the Midwest to Chicago for easy abortion access, paying for an abortion can be expensive. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 75 percent of abortion patients in the United States are low-income.

But a Chicago nonprofit aims to make abortions more affordable for those who trek long distances to get one in the city.

Midwest Access Coalition, an entirely volunteer-run organization, helps clients with the costs of traveling to Chicago for an abortion and connects them with volunteers who put them up in their homes. The organization serves both Illinois residents and out-of-state patients traveling to Chicago.
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Women in Southern Illinois must travel longer distances to abortion clinics

By Sofi LaLonde
Medill Reports

Women in southern Illinois are disadvantaged when seeking an abortion, according to data on distances to abortion clinics from the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health research and policy group, published in early October.

Residents in Illinois have more access to abortion than in other states in the Midwest region, both in distance to clinics and when factoring in state laws, the institute found. However, residents of counties in southern Illinois are farther away from abortion clinics, which can increase the financial burden placed on women seeking abortions.

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