June 5, 2013
Illinois state inspectors say the bridge carrying traffic on County Highway 50 over Interstate 74 in Mahomet is in “critical condition” and “structurally deficient.”
But an average of 2,550 vehicles — including school buses — still use the bridge each day, although the bridge has been reduced to a single traffic lane since August 2011.
May 30, 2013
By Amy Harwath/CU-CitizenAccess.org - Trash litters the floors of the Edgar County jail, unknown liquid leaks from the ceilings, and broken locks make it impossible to secure internal doors.
The Sangamon County Jail is consistently overcrowded, making living quarters unfit for inmates.
These are just a few of the shortcomings in the Illinois county jails revealed in a review of hundreds of state...
April 25, 2013
By Amy Harwath/CU-CitizenAccess.org -- A Northern Illinois University lecture hall was the target of a mass shooting in 2008 where five persons were killed and 18 injured before the shooter took his own life.
At the time of the shooting, Northern’s students had to voluntarily sign up for emergency text message alerts, which only reached up to 10 percent of the university’s students.
April 19, 2013
By Amy Harwath/CU-CitizenAccess.org -- On Wednesday, April 17 the group Champaign-Urbana Citizens for Peace and Justice held a public hearing with jail consultant Alan Kalmanoff to air their concerns and ask questions about his ongoing evaluation of the Champaign County jail.
Over 70 people were in attendance, from local community members to graduate student members of the Planners Network to county officials...
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By Evan Lyman -- Loretta Williams has moved in and out of Bristol Place three times.
She currently lives on Roper Street, taking care of her 3-year-old grandson, Ty’Vontis, whom she has looked after since he was 4 months old. On Feb. 26, 2013, Loretta officially became Ty’Vontis’ mother after nearly three years of court processes and DCFS evaluations.
While Loretta says she has doubts about starting over in a new neighborhood, she says she “knows (she) will be okay.”
By Amy Harwath/CU-CitizenAccess.org -- While the debate continues about whether to shutdown Champaign County’s downtown jail, a consultant hired by the county is pushing for a new system for better assessments of how dangerous offenders are.
The consultant, Alan Kalmanoff, believes that such a change will have a longer impact. He said in a draft of his report that objectively assessing criminal offenders will minimize the county jail population and expediently move them through the criminal justice system.
This week Kalmanoff, of the Berkeley, Calif. consulting firm Institute for Law and Policy Planning, presented the draft of his final jail assessment report to the Champaign County Board. Over 20 members of the public attended the study session.
The co-founder and director of CU-CitizenAccess was one of three University of Illinois faculty to be honored Tuesday night with a campus-wide award aimed to highlight community engagement projects locally, nationally and globally.
Brant Houston, who holds the Knight Chair in Investigative and Enterprise Reporting in the Department of Journalism, launched CU-CitizenAccess in 2009.