Lee V. Gaines

Lee V. Gaines is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Reader, Chicago Magazine, Crain’sthe Pacific Standard and the Marshall Project. She also recently completed a fellowship with Chicago non-profit journalism lab, City Bureau. 

Lee has more than six years of experience producing breaking news, magazine-length feature stories and investigative reports on subjects including education, the medical marijuana industry, criminal justice reform, social justice, local and regional politics, in addition to stories about Chicago’s thriving music and arts scene. 

A Rhode Island native, Lee began her career as a staff reporter for GateHouse Media New England covering the Boston suburbs.

Lee reports on education from Illinois Public Media as part of the Illinois Newsroom regional journalism collaborative.

  URBANA – Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have created a saliva-based  COVID-19 test. 

During a webinar hosted Tuesday by U of I Chancellor Robert Jones and other university staff, Martin Burke, a U of I chemistry professor, announced that they had the capacity to test up to 10,000 people per day. 

Yuliana Quintana worries she won’t succeed in college because she didn’t have access to lab equipment, Advanced Placement classes, and other resources during her high school years.

When Francisco Gamino arrived at Parkland College four years ago, he didn’t know how to balance work and find the time he needed to study.

Lance Pittman arrived at the Danville Correctional Center on Jan. 10 with multiple boxes of books, and bound printouts of articles and book chapters. Pittman coordinates a college in prison program called the Education Justice Project, which offers University of Illinois classes to a select group of men at the Danville prison. 

Dianne Gordon, a mom who lives in Champaign, knew something was wrong with her daughter Rory the minute she stepped off the school bus one afternoon in April. 

The new director of the Illinois Department of Corrections said during a legislative hearing in Chicago on Monday that the agency plans to revise its policy regarding what books can and cannot enter the prison. 

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin is cosponsoring legislation that would rollback one of the provisions of the 1994 crime bill. It’s called the Restoring Education and Learning Act— or REAL Act. The bill would restore Pell Grant eligibility to people incarcerated in state and federal prisons.

Illinois lawmakers plan to ask state prison officials why more than 200 books were removed from a colle

Augie Torres said he missed between seven and 10 job interviews when he was released from prison in October 2014 because he was on an electronic monitor that barred him from leaving home except for certain hours three days per week.

LEE V. GAINES

When she found out that staff at the Danville Correctional Center had removed more than 200 books from a library inside the prison’s education wing, Rebecca Ginsburg said she felt a pit in her stomach.

“I felt sick,” she said. Ginsburg directs the Education Justice Project, a college in prison program that offers University of Illinois classes to men incarcerated at the Danville prison in east-central Illinois. In late January, prison staff removed dozens of titles from two rooms that serve as the program’s library.

Champaign County State’s Attorney Julia Rietz says she’s concerned about how legalization could impact the juveniles she works with on a daily basis. She’s also concerned about how the state will address cannabis impaired driving.

JOHNSON/THE NIGHT MINISTRY

Just because someone has four walls around them every night, that doesn’t mean they’re housed. That’s what Paul Hamann believes. He’s the president and CEO of the Night Ministry, a Chicago-based non-profit that provides shelter and healthcare services to the homeless.

Hamann said he knows young people who sleep at friends’ homes every night. They’re able to take a shower, and they go to school the next day.

“You would never think that they are homeless, but they are,” Hamann said.

 


Johnny Page saw something as a child that no young person should ever see.

“I witnessed my cousin being killed when I was maybe six, seven-years-old,” he said. Page said he was traumatized by the experience. He said he was overcome by a need to protect his family and friends. He became a fighter.  

Melissa Esparza fled her home in west suburban Chicago two years ago. Then 16, she said her parents became physically violent after years of verbal abuse.

 

Last summer, Chantil was forced to leave the townhome she shared with her two daughters and her mother in Des Plaines. (We’re withholding Chantil’s last name to protect her family’s privacy.) Her landlord wanted to sell the building, and Chantil had only about a month to find a new home. Landlords, however, kept turning her down because of her credit, and her income. Chantil makes $12 an hour at a department store.

Illinois could save millions of dollars on incarceration costs if the federal ban on Pell Grants for inmates was lifted, according to a new report from the Vera Institute of Justice. Pell Grants are awarded to low-income undergraduate students to help them pay for college.

Atiba Flemons, provided through his attorney

A lawsuit filed Monday in federal court includes numerous allegations of racial harassment of black employees at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The plaintiffs allege in court documents racial harassment is U of I’s “standard operating procedure.”

Black employees at the U of I were “exposed to threats of racial violence, such as nooses, swastikas, KKK garb, racist graffiti, and confederate flags,” according to the lawsuit.

sean hobson/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

A new report published by a national non-profit finds that Illinois prisons are holding about 17,000 more people than they were designed to house.

 

The group behind the paper is called FWD.us, a non-profit that advocates for criminal justice and immigration reforms. The non-profit describes itself as bipartisan and was founded as well as funded by a group of tech entrepreneurs, including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates.

Lily Furgeson had a great experience in sex ed in middle school. Furgeson, who is a 17-year-old senior at a Chicago Public Schools high school, said her eighth grade sex ed teacher made sure to include lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender identities as part of their curriculum.

Provided by Davis and Londrigan campaigns.

The candidates running for Illinois’ 13th Congressional District weighed in on the testimony provided last Thursday by Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, and one of his accusers, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. But only one provided a straight answer when asked whether or not they support a full investigation into the allegation of sexual assault.

In 2000, Charles Davidson was arrested the day before the 4th of July for a crime he said he didn’t commit. Urbana Police responded that evening to a complaint of fireworks and came upon Davidson, who claims he made the complaint on behalf of his mother. According to court records, police accused the now 68-year-old youth mentor of providing officers with the false last name of “Edwards.” Davidson said “Edwards” was his mother’s last name, and he simply gave police his first name.