Afternoon Edition: Disabled and dying behind bars

Today’s update is about an eight-minute read that will brief you on the day’s biggest stories.

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Joe Coleman (right) receives an award from warden Thomas F. Page at the Menard Correctional Center. Coleman was a decorated Army veteran who died of prostate cancer while in prison. An Illinois law named for him allows prisoners to request early release.

Illinois Prison Project

Good afternoon, Chicago. ✶

By now, you’ve probably heard of the writers’ and actors’ labor strikes that have thrown Hollywood for a serious loop.

They’re still going strong, leaving many in the entertainment industry to face even more dire financial situations.

Below, we’ve got the story of how “Chicago P.D.” cast and producers pitched in to help the locally made show’s lowest-paid crew members.

Plus, we’ve got even more news you need to know this afternoon. 👇

⏱️: A 7-minute read

— Matt Moore, newsletter reporter (@MattKenMoore)


TODAY’S TOP STORY

Dying, disabled prisoners stay behind bars despite Illinois law calling for their medical release

Reporting by Carlos Ballesteros | Injustice Watch, Shannon Heffernan and Amy Qin | WBEZ

Medical release under law: Illinois prisoners can request early release if they’re terminally ill and expected to die within 18 months, or if they’re medically incapacitated and need help with more than one activity of daily living, such as eating or using the bathroom. It’s a law touted by Gov. J.B. Pritzker and other Democrats as a way to reduce the “staggering” costs of caring for ailing people in prison and reunite families with frail loved ones.

Policy falling short: A year and a half since the law took effect, far fewer prisoners have been released than expected as the medical release process has become mired in the politics of criminal justice reform in the post-George Floyd era, an investigation by Injustice Watch and WBEZ found.

Behind the numbers: Behind the lower-than-expected numbers is the Illinois Prisoner Review Board, a state agency whose members are appointed by Pritzker, that has the final say on medical release requests. As of mid-August, the board has denied nearly two-thirds of medical release requests from dying and disabled prisoners who met the medical criteria to get out of prison. More than half of the 89 denied applicants were older than 60. Most had spent at least 15 years behind bars. At least two died in prison, including an 81-year-old who’d been incarcerated for more than three decades and was scheduled to be released in 2025. Another man died five days before the board denied his request.

READ MORE


WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON?

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Ang Gardner (from left), Jeff Sweeney, Lucille Edlund and Stuart Elmore are among the “Chicago P.D.” production assistants helped with money from the shutdown show’s cast and crew.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

  • ‘Chicago P.D.’ crew bands together amid strike: A group of production assistants who worked on the set of “Chicago P.D.” — before the writers’ and actors’ strikes — have received a huge morale and financial boost. Each received $1,500 from a pool of money that was collected from cast and crew members of the show.
  • 2 firefighters escape after man tries to trap them: A 47-year-old man is in custody after he lured two firefighters into his South Side home where the floor was covered with gasoline, according to police. Other firefighters smashed a window to reach the two.
  • Charges filed after boy fatally shot in home: A man has been charged with child endangerment in connection to the accidental fatal shooting of an 8-year-old boy earlier this month in a Garfield Park home.
  • Malcolm X College to get $9.5M expansion: The college’s satellite campus on the West Side is getting a $9.5 million face-lift and expansion. A 3,000-square-foot addition to the satellite campus will be called the Community Center for Teaching and Learning.
  • Bears’ roster full of question marks: Now that the Bears have finalized their roster, the outcomes could range from playoff contention — if everything goes right — to picking at or near the top of the draft again if most of it backfires.
  • 3 stars for ‘Bottoms’: The story of awkward queer girls trying to score has an edgy, cheerfully warped sense of humor, writes Sun-Times critic Richard Roeper
  • Riot Fest announces schedule, full lineup: Foo Fighters, the Cure, the Postal Service, Death Cab for Cutie and Queens of the Stone Age will headline the 2023 edition of Riot Fest Sept. 15–17.

BUSES FROM THE BORDER: 1 YEAR LATER

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Volunteer medical professionals and students speak with Katy Pernett Perez about her son Josue Miguel’s condition at an asylum-seeker encampment outside the Central District police station.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Time

Health of thousands of migrants at Chicago police stations is in the hands of volunteer Mobile Migrant Health Team

Reporting by Michael Loria

A group of volunteer medical students, doctors and other health care professionals, known as Chicago’s Mobile Migrant Health Team, are responding to the needs of thousands of migrants who have been bused here from the southern border.

The city has established a network of shelters for the new arrivals, where they get help with housing and services, including health care. But the rate of arrivals has outpaced the city’s ability to open shelters, leaving many to sleep at Chicago Police Department stations since at least January. Many would be without health care if it were not for the health team.

The team was started in early May by Sara Izquierdo, a Chicago native who previously worked on a team treating unhoused people and led neighborhood COVID-19 vaccination drives.

At 27, Izquierdo is entering her second year of medical school. She created the team with a few other medical students from University of Illinois Chicago. It has grown to include 200 volunteers from medical schools, hospitals and clinics.

The team goes out twice a week to police stations, usually with 10 volunteers for each run, always with at least one doctor, and sees anywhere from just a few people to 30 or more.

READ MORE


BRIGHT ONE ✨

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Performers brought their rap and spoken word poetry to July’s INTH3LAND open mic. It’s hosted monthly by clothing store Englewood Branded, 1546 W. 63rd St.

Alex Wroblewski/For the Sun-Times

Englewood open mic makes space for city’s best spoken word, hip-hop talent

Reporting by Mark Braboy

For one night every month at 63rd Street and Ashland, an intimate crowd of Englewood residents can be found gathering across from the Green Line station to watch INTH3LAND (In the Land) — a recurring open mic event.

Founded in 2020, INTH3LAND started as an idea of host Isiah “ThoughtPoet” Veney, who was concerned that the number of legit open mic spaces had dwindled since his time on the spoken word/hip-hop scene with future stars like Noname, Saba, Femdot, and Chance the Rapper.

“I just noticed that, as 2020 was starting, there wasn’t a lot of open mics that people trusted. So when I created INTH3LAND, it was really to just be a space where people can come, they’re safe, they don’t have to worry about being harmed, and they can creatively work on their art,” says ThoughtPoet, who hosts the monthly event with local singer Jazstar.

Since its inception, the open mic has drawn people from across the city to see Chicago’s best and brightest upcoming young poets.

READ MORE


YOUR DAILY QUESTION ☕️

What’s a piece of Chicago etiquette that everyone should know?

Email us (please include your first and last name and where you live). To see the answers to this question, check our Morning Edition newsletter. Not subscribed to Morning Edition? Sign up here so you won’t miss a thing!


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Editor: Satchel Price
Newsletter reporter: Matt Moore
Copy editor: Angie Myers

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