In the first hour of our Harper High School shows, Alex Kotlowitz talked to a junior named Devonte who a year earlier had accidentally shot and killed his 14-year-old brother. Devonte was forming a strong relationship with Crystal Smith, one of the social workers, and beginning to come to terms with both his grief and guilt.
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Most murders in Chicago happen in public places — parks, alleyways, cars. Scores of Harper students will tell you they've actually seen someone shot.
Reporter Alex Kotlowitz spends time in the social work office, where the effects of gun violence are most often apparent. Early on in the year, social worker Crystal Smith spends time with a junior named Devonte, talking him through his grief and guilt after Devonte accidentally shot and killed his 14 year old brother last year.
For decades, the writer Alex Kotlowitz has been writing about the inner cities and the toll of violence on young people. So when he heard about a program at Drexel University where guys from the inner city get counseling for PTSD, he wondered if the effect of urban violence was comparable to the trauma that a person experiences from war.
When Bernie Epton ran for mayor of Chicago in 1983, he was a long shot—Chicago historically voted in democrat mayors, and Bernie himself didn't think he stood a chance. Beyond that, Bernie was a moderate republican, with some liberal tendencies: He was a opponent of McCarthyism, he marched in Memphis after Dr.
Tim White used to be a gang leader in Chicago, but now he's a "violence interrupter" for a program called CeaseFire. Host Ira Glass talks to Tim about his work, and why he thinks it can keep young gang members from killing each other.
Alex Kotlowitz reports on a woman with the power to change two people's lives...and at the height of her power, she doesn't even know she has it. Alex is the author of Never a City So Real and other books.
Five stories of people doing what they think they have to, in order to make ends meet. A suburban dad makes what seems like a rational choice (to him, at the time, anyway) to start robbing laundries and banks.
Louann Mims, a 78-year-old retiree, planned to leave her New Orleans house before the floodwaters rose, but then the water came rushing in and she was trapped in her house for eight days on the only thing that would float: her extra firm Sterns and Foster mattress. Ms.
When she was three years old, Georgia was caught by immigration officials when a Milwaukee woman tried to bring her into the country illegally from Jamaica. She ended up at a residential detention center in Chicago.
To understand how Cicero reacted when Hispanics started flooding into town, you have to understand how it dealt with conflict in the past. For a period the town was run by Al Capone, and the mob was connected to Town Hall for most of the twentieth century.
In the 1970s and 1980s, a wave of non-white migration into Cicero begins, this one primarily Mexican-American. The head of the political machine is named Betty Loren-Maltese, whose husband, now deceased, was convicted for mob-related activity.
Despite the town's resistance, Hispanics now make up three quarters of the population. And yet the incumbent Town President, Betty Loren-Maltese, seems likely to win the next election.
Two stories about daily life in Cicero. First the tale of Dave Boyle, who stumbled into Cicero politics accidentally in the 1980s, suffered the bruises, and left town.
What happens if the immigration service wants to deport you, but the country you came from won't take you back? Under current law, usually, you stay in jail...indefinitely. Writer Alex Kotlowitz tells the story of one legal alien from Vietnam, Trung Tran, and the unusually close and friendly relationships he and his fellow deportees have with their captors in a jail in Victoria, Texas.
When Jessica Robinson was sent to adult prison at the age of 14, the state did such a terrible job taking care of her that several women—an embezzler, a convicted murderer, and some thieves—stepped in to mother her. Alex Kotlowitz reports.