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Report for America is a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues and communities. This year's cohort has been placed with more than 160 local news organizations across 45 states and Puerto Rico, including two journalists right here at WNIJ. We are thrilled to announce the addition of JuanPablo Ramirez-Franco to our news team, and a new role for WNIJ reporter Yvonne Boose.Yvonne Boose covers artistic, cultural, and spiritual expressions in the COVID-19 era. This includes how members of community cultural groups are finding creative and innovative ways to enrich their personal lives through these expressions individually and within the context of their larger communities.Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco covers substandard housing and police-community relations. An audio producer and journalist based out of Chicago, he’s also been a bilingual facilitator at the StoryCorps office.He will continue Sarah Jesmer’s award-winning work at WNIJ covering issues of social justice and identity. Jesmer earned a top award from the Illinois Associated Press for reports including: Inside DeKalb County's Unincorporated Apartments; Wigs, Lipstick & Sparkles: The Thriving Drag Scene In Northern Illinois; and Kish College: Anonymous Letters And A Controversial Investigation.These reporting positions come at a time when local journalism is already reeling from years of newsroom cuts and unforeseen challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.Both positions are partially funded by a grant from Report for America. WNIJ must raise an additional $30,000 in local matching funds. Support these important voices in our community by donating to WNIJ’s portion here.Yvonne and Juanpablo’s stories on our community will be collected below.

Criminal Justice Reform Bill Already Faces Criticism

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http://www.senatordavesyverson.com
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Senator Dave Syverson

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law a massive criminal justice overhaul. Critics are already lining up. 

 

Rockford-area Republican Sen. Dave Syverson said he sympathizes with the opponents of the measure, and referred to it as a “blatant anti-police bill.” 

"Well, certainly I'm disappointed that bill was signed and not vetoed, or even amendatorily vetoed. There are some things in there that make sense. Problem is that the major things that are in there clearly are going to tie the hands of law enforcement."

 

The bill includes expanded training for law enforcement, use of body cameras and ends cash bail for pretrial detention by 2023 among other provisions. It also includes a renewed process for police decertification in the event of a felony conviction and a limited list of misdemeanors.

 

Additionally, Pritzker signed into law improvements to the state’s Crime Victim Compensation Program which would enable the attorney general’s office to more efficiently administer benefits in order to make resources more accessible to survivors.

 

Moreover, Attorney General Kwame Raoul said that wants to set the record straight, that the the omnibus bill isn't “anti-police.”

 

Raoul said, "I think it was pro-law enforcement because the retaining of people on police departments anywhere in the state, who are not worthy, who are guilty of misconduct does not benefit law enforcement.”

 

  • Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco is a current corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project which is a national service program that places talented journalists in local newsrooms.