Cheryl Corley

Based in NPR's Chicago Bureau, Cheryl Corley travels throughout the Midwest covering issues and events from Ohio to South Dakota as a National Desk reporter.

In recent years, Corley has reported on the political turmoil of Illinois state government surrounding the impeachment and trial of former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, the campaign and election of President Barack Obama, the battle over the Senate seat he once held and Chicago's losing effort to land the 2016 Olympics. She reported on the housing boom and bust, on efforts to revamp public housing and a new approach to home building — miniaturization. Her story about designer living in extraordinarily tiny homes on wheels became one of NPR's top emailed stories.

In 2005, Corley was among the group of NPR reporters covering the devastation caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita as they tore through the Gulf Coast. Five years later she returned to the area 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, Tell Me More, the weekend edition of All Things Considered 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, with a Bachelor of Arts degree 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 also serves on the board as Acting President of the Association for Women Journalists in Chicago.

"Water, water everywhere." That line from poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge could be the mantra for rain-weary residents across the country. Some regions have seen record amounts of rain since early spring. The Mississippi River and tributaries spent months above flood stage, while all of the Great Lakes are nearly at or above historic highs.

Keith Kompoltowicz, chief of watershed hydrology for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Detroit, says data show that the Great Lakes have been on the rise for several years, especially in recent months.

The recent shooting deaths of two black men by police have reignited protests about police use of force. In both cases, the men had guns and police wrongly mistook them for suspects.

On Thanksgiving night, a white police officer fatally shot 21-year-old Emantic Bradford Jr. at a mall in Hoover, Ala., a Birmingham suburb. Bradford and others were running from a shooting that left two people injured. Some witnesses said during the pandemonium that followed, some of those running away pulled out their guns for their own protection. Police later said Bradford was not an assailant.

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.

The case has come to embody many of the political and racial tensions that grip the city, and the massive distrust between communities of color and police. In fact, one protest chant has become a mantra in the case: "Sixteen shots and a cover-up."

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.

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."

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.

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."

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.

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