after my June 2019 retirement from full-time journalism. Through my work as a correspondent with WGLT in Normal I have the opportunity to delve into those stories that make people think about how the system works and in some cases, fails. The public’s knowledge of the courts and criminal justice system is often limited to what they know about a specific case, perhaps their own. But beyond the day to day rulings and sentencings is a complex machine which never stops grinding and sifting the intricacies of the legal process. Even the smallest tweak affects all layers of the legal system from how many people are arrested, who stays in jail and for how long to the size of the nation’s incarceration rate, still at a staggering two million inmates.
On October 23, Dr. David Olson presented a program to the Illinois Probation and Court Services Association on why data is an important tool in the work of probation officers.
Olsen’s news that arrests, crimes rates and the prison population are all down in Illinois seemed to surprise some probation officers in the room. Olson’s point? When it comes to crime, the public’s perception is that things are getting worse, not better. He included elected officials among those with that mistaken idea. Here’s a story I wrote for WGLT on the conference and Olson’s insightful research on what’s happening in the criminal justice arena in Illinois:
Failing Rica is a story I co-authored with WGLT’s Digital Content Director Ryan Denham: