Cheryl Corley

Cheryl Corley is an NPR correspondent who works for the National Desk and is based in Chicago. She travels throughout the Midwest covering issues and events throughout the region's 12 states.

In recent years, Corley has reported on the campaign and re-election of President Barack Obama, on the efforts by Illinois officials to rethink the state's Juvenile Justice System, on youth violence in Chicago, and on political turmoil in the Illinois state government. She's reported on the infamous Trayvon Martin shooting case in Florida and covered tornadoes that have destroyed homes and claimed lives in Harrisburg, Illinois; small towns in Oklahoma; and Joplin, Missouri.

In addition, Corley was among the group of NPR reporters covering the devastation caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita as they tore through the Gulf Coast. She returned to the area, five years later, and joined the reporting team covering the impact of the BP oil spill. Corley also has served as a fill-in host for NPR shows, including Weekend All Things Considered, Tell Me More, and Morning Edition.

Prior to joining NPR, Corley was the news director at Chicago's public radio station, WBEZ, where she supervised an award-winning team of reporters. She also has been a frequent panelist on television news-affairs programs in Chicago.

Corley has received awards for her work from a number of organizations including the National Association of Black Journalists, the Associated Press, the Public Radio News Directors Association, and the Society of Professional Journalists. She earned the Community Media Workshop's Studs Terkel Award for excellence in reporting on Chicago's diverse communities and a Herman Kogan Award for reporting on immigration issues.

A Chicago native, Corley graduated cum laude from Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, and is now a Bradley University trustee. While in Peoria, Corley worked as a reporter and news director for public radio station WCBU and as a television director for the NBC affiliate, WEEK-TV. She is a past President of the Association for Women Journalists in Chicago.

She is also the co-creator of the Cindy Bandle Young Critics Program. The critics/journalism training program for female high school juniors is a collaboration between AWJ-Chicago and the Goodman Theatre. Corley has also served as a board member of Community Television Network, an organization that trains Chicago youth in video and multi-media production.

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Jury selection begins Wednesday in the murder trial for Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke. The officer, who is white, is accused of killing 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, who is black, as he walked down the middle of a city street holding a knife.

It was a celebration — a daylong tribute, full of stories sharing how Aretha Franklin's life touched her Detroit community and the world.

There were moments of politics and humor, but most of all, the Queen of Soul was honored with music at the Greater Grace Temple Church in Detroit on Friday.

As the church swelled with attendees — a who's who of big names in music, sports and politics were present to pay their respects: The Clark Sisters, Ariana Grande, former basketball star Isiah Thomas and former President Bill Clinton. The missing voice was Aretha Franklin's.

Aretha Franklin returned to her hometown church today.

The Queen of Soul died on August 16 from pancreatic cancer. For the past few days, fans gathered to pay their respects at Detroit's Charles H. Wright's Museum of African-American History. But today, long lines gathered outside New Bethel Baptist Church where Franklin's late father was the pastor for many years and where she sang in the choir. Franklin, dressed in a pink dress and gold studded heels, lay in repose in the church sanctuary.

When Detroit celebrates the life of Aretha Franklin on Friday, there will be more than 100 pink Cadillacs lining the road in front of the church where her funeral will occur. It's a tribute to the Queen of Soul and one of her biggest, Grammy-winning hits.

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Despite a dip in shootings and murders for the year, Chicago suffered one of its bloodiest weekends in recent history last weekend. Police say 33 shootings occurred between Friday and Sunday nights, fueled mostly by gang violence. The incidents left a dozen people dead and dozens wounded. Now, the city's mayor and police superintendent say the city's residents who live in troubled areas of the city should do more to help stop the bloodshed.

The violence occurred between 6 p.m. Friday and 11:59 p.m. Sunday night. Nearly 70 people including several children were wounded.

In Chicago, one of the bloodiest weekends in recent history has the city's mayor and police superintendent calling for neighbors to speak up. From Friday evening to Sunday night, 33 shooting incidents left 12 people dead and many more injured.

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There are slightly more than 2 million people incarcerated in the United States — that's nearly equal to the entire population of Houston. Among those prisoners, thousands serve time in solitary confinement, isolated in small often windowless cells for 22 to 24 hours a day. Some remain isolated for weeks, months or even years.

"You're shut off from the world and you wait," says Olay Silva, a 41-year-old inmate serving time in Bismarck, N.D.'s maximum-security prison. Silva spent six months in solitary after he was involved in a stabbing. "You just sit there and wait."

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With the rise of videos showing violent and often deadly encounters between police and citizens, there's also been an increase in the creation or expansion of civilian oversight groups to monitor police departments. Today, there are about 18,000 police departments in the U.S. and, according to the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement, there are about 200 civilian groups that monitor police.

Community groups that pushed for changes in the Chicago Police Department will now be able to weigh in on reform efforts being negotiated by the city and state attorney general.

They reached the agreement this week following months of sometimes heated talks after the city waffled on how to overhaul the troubled police department.

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All over America today, students staged walkouts to protest school shootings. Let's hear now from Chicago where students rallied against the wider epidemic of gun violence in their city. NPR's Cheryl Corley has this report.

No one knows how many people wrongfully convicted of crimes are in prison, but last year 139 of them were exonerated. That's a drop from 2016, when there were 171 such cases.

The numbers released today by the National Registry of Exonerations shows that Texas still led the nation with 23 exonerees last year followed by Illinois (21), Michigan (14) and New York (13).

When the bell rings at Chicago's Sullivan High School on the city's far north side, it's a familiar scene. Hundreds of students pour into the hallway heading to their next class. What's also becoming increasingly familiar is the presence of two uniformed police officers in the hallway keeping watch. The school resource officers often chat with the students passing by and Sullivan's principal Chad Adams says the officers provide a higher level of security for the school and much more.

Edward Sanders was 17 years old when he was convicted of first degree murder in 1975. He was a passenger in the car of a drive-by shooting. He's now 60 and he was paroled this past summer — after spending 42 1/2 years in prison.

Sanders says he is nothing like the teenager sentenced four decades ago. "I don't identify with that youth that committed the offenses he committed. I condemn that youth. I rebuke his behavior. I'm not that person."

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A fatal police shooting in Kansas late last month focused attention again on how so-called swatting — prank 911 calls designed to get SWAT teams to deploy — puts lives at risk and burdens police departments.

There are more than 7,000 911 centers in the U.S. and, according to the National Emergency Number Association, they receive about 600,000 calls a day. Authorities don't track swatting calls nationally, though the FBI has been monitoring the practice of those types of fake calls for about a decade.

Today in Chicago, Judge Leroy Martin threw out the convictions of 15 men in what defense attorneys call a landmark decision and the "first mass exoneration" in Cook County. The men, who all served prison terms, claim they were framed by former Chicago Police Sgt. Ronald Watts and officers under his command. One of the men, Leonard Gipson, spent four years in prison and says Watts would demand money and then drugs on a person and arrest them if he was not paid.

In Chicago, an odd mix of brazen action by detainees in jail and declining budgets is keeping public defenders from talking to their clients in the lockup areas behind county courtrooms.

Cook County Public Defender Amy Campanelli says this will continue until authorities can find a way to stop some of the men in custody from exposing themselves to female attorneys.

If you've ever called 911 to report an emergency, thank the Johnson Crime Commission. Establishing a national emergency number was just one of more than 200 recommendations the Commission offered up in a landmark 1967 report "for a safer and more just society."

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The state of Illinois has been in a budget crisis since 2015. All that instability meant vendors didn't get paid, and students left state universities. Now finally, a breakthrough. Here's NPR's Cheryl Corley.

The New York City neighborhood where a gunman walked up to a truck-like mobile police command vehicle early Wednesday and shot into a window killing Officer Miosotis Familia, is in a high-crime area of the Bronx.

Authorities say they are still working to identify the shooter's motive, but still, Familia's death stunned residents such as Liz Fabers.

"Did she deserve to die, hell no, nobody shouldn't walked up on her and just killed her," she says.

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The design for the Obama Presidential Center was unveiled Wednesday at an event attended by former President Obama and Michelle Obama.

The Center, slated to be completed in 2021, will be located in the Jackson Park neighborhood of Chicago's South side and it will include three buildings — a museum, forum and library that surround a public plaza.

A century ago, it was one of the biggest names in retail. Now, even Sears officials say its future could be in doubt — though they say they have plans to make sure the retail icon survives.

Nancy Koehn with the Harvard Business School says that in its early days, Sears Roebuck and Co. was like Amazon is today — a retailer of great disruption.

For Sears, it meant a path-breaking strategy of offering all sorts of merchandise in catalogs and building department stores in remote places with ample parking.

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