Bristol Place Speaks: A personal housing project
Chad Sullivan is an aspiring carpenter and real estate investor. When Chad purchased his first home in 2011, he chose Bristol Place, a neighborhood with some of the lowest real estate value in Champaign. Hoping to turn a profit and launch his career, Chad spends his time and money preparing the home for resale.
This project is the culmination of 15 University of Illinois students’ work during fall 2012 as part of the multimedia reporting course taught by Professor Charles “Stretch” Ledford. The students followed their subjects and reported on their lives throughout the Champaign’s decision-making about the fate of the Bristol Place neighborhood. The students did not aim to include this in their reporting, however. They simply wanted to tell the tales of the neighborhood’s residents. To read more, visit Bristol Place Speaks.
CU-CitizenAccess.org wins 2012 Peter Lisagor Award
CU-CitizenAccess.org has won the 2012 Peter Lisagor Award for its collaborative project with Hoy Chicago looking at changing demographics and racial issues in Central Illinois.
The award was announced earlier this month by the Chicago Headline Club, the largest Society of Professional Journalists chapter in the country.
"We deeply appreciate the recognition for the collaborative work that produced a stellar public service project," said Brant Houston, director of CU-CitizenAccess.org. "This encourages us to continue and expand on our efforts."
Houston, who holds the Knight Chair in Investigative and Enterprise Reporting in the Department of Journalism, co-founded and launched CU-CitizenAccess in 2009.
CU-CitizenAccess.org was part of the team that won in the multimedia category along with Hoy Staff, Chicago Tribune Graphics Staff for “Midwest Chronicles: Diversity Flourishes”.
The project took a deep look at the demographic shift across 16 counties in Central Illinois, including stories on racial issues and data analysis of crime statistics. The project included presentations in video, audio, and text on the organizations' Web sites and a 16 page supplement published in editions of the News-Gazette and Hoy Chicago last fall.
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Jail consultant recommends risk-assessments for Champaign County justice system
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.
Last 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.
Although the draft report does not include a final action plan for the county to implement, it does include recommendations that county officials and community members can review and comment on over the following week.
Throughout the presentation of his draft, Kalmanoff emphasized multiple times the importance of an “objective risk assessment instrument” at each justice system decision point.
The risk-assessment tool is a points-based evaluation system that is “predictive of danger,” Kalmanoff said. From arrest to pretrial to sentencing and bond, the risk assessment tool awards and deducts points based on objective questions about an offender.
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Opt-in text alert system leaves many at University of Illinois out
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.
Now, Northern is instituting a new emergency notification provider, Everbridge. The new system is not fully implemented, but roughly two-thirds of students receive emergency text messages, officials say.
But the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - where the Northern Illinois shooter, Steven Kazmierczak, lived and attended graduate school at the time of the shooting - has not changed its emergency alert system to reach more students via text messages. With its current opt-in system, however, less than one-third of Illinois’s roughly 42,000 students are signed up for text alerts, Illinois campus security officials say.
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Community voices questions, concerns to jail consultant at public hearing
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 and board members including Champaign County Administrator Deb Busey and Sheriff Dan Walsh.
The hearing was originally scheduled for the beginning of the month but was postponed because Kalmanoff has been ill. He joined in the conversation remotely via audio and video from his home in Berkeley, Calif.
Most questions were about racial and gender disparities in the jail as well as who should provide medical and mental health care for inmates.
“There’s probably going to have to be some construction,” Kalmanoff said, at least for medical and mental health units and for separation.
“I’m more inclined to get rid of the old jail and get pods for the satellite jail,” he said. Kalmanoff has worked with over 400 counties to improve their criminal justice systems.
He raised the possibility of closing the downtown jail and selling it for commercial space so that the money could be put toward community programs.
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