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Cheryl Corley

Cheryl Corley is a Chicago-based NPR correspondent who works for the National Desk. She primarily covers criminal justice issues as well as breaking news in the Midwest and across the country.

In her role as a criminal justice correspondent, Corley works as part of a collaborative team and has a particular interest on issues and reform efforts that affect women, girls, and juveniles. She's reported on programs that help incarcerated mothers raise babies in prison, on pre-apprenticeships in prison designed to help cut recidivism of women, on the efforts by Illinois officials to rethink the state's juvenile justice system and on the push to revamp the use of solitary confinement in North Dakota prisons.

For more than two decades with NPR, Corley has covered some of the country's most important news stories. She's reported on the political turmoil in Virginia over the governor's office and a blackface photo, the infamous Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida, on mass shootings in Orlando, Florida; Charleston, South Carolina; Chicago; and other locations. She's also reported on the election of Chicago's first black female and lesbian mayor, on the campaign and re-election of President Barack Obama, on the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina and oil spills along the Gulf Coast, as well as numerous other disasters, and on the funeral of the "queen of soul," Aretha Franklin.

Corley also has served as a fill-in host for NPR shows, including Weekend All Things Considered, Morning Edition, and defunct shows Tell Me More and News and Notes.

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 worked as the City Hall reporter covering the administration of the city's first black mayor, Harold Washington, and others that followed. 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 a former 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 (AWJ-Chicago).

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

Editor's note: This story includes information that may be upsetting for some readers.

Late Monday night, a federal judge in Indiana blocked the execution of 52-year-old Lisa Montgomery — hours before she was scheduled to die by lethal injection at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Ind.

Montgomery was sentenced to death in 2008 for murdering 23-year-old Bobbie Jo Stinnett in Missouri. In 2004, Montgomery strangled Stinnett, who was eight months pregnant, cut her fetus from the womb and tried to pass the surviving baby off as her own.

Last year, an alarming increase in homicides left communities — often in lockdown — reeling as officials searched for answers. That was evident at lots of news conferences as police officials and mayors in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City rolled out dire news.

At the end of 2020, Chicago police reported more than 750 murders, a jump of more than 50% compared with 2019. By mid-December, Los Angeles saw a 30% increase over the previous year with 322 homicides. There were 437 homicides in New York City by Dec. 20, nearly 40% more than the previous year.

This month's elections, especially in the aftermath of this summer's protests against racial injustice, were seen as a test for criminal justice reforms. This was especially true for so-called progressive district attorneys.

Many policies in the higher-profile cities of Philadelphia, San Francisco and Chicago already had drawn the ire of some in law enforcement, including choosing not to prosecute certain low-level crimes, among other changes.

Those policies appear to be just fine with voters in cities with prosecutors who vowed to continue shaking things up.

Voters this week had their say on what police reform would look like, approving dozens of measures that will begin shaping policies at departments across the country.

This summer's massive protests over police brutality, spurred by the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others, demanded significant changes in policing.

Those protests have moved some cities and states to "reimagine" what departments could look like through changes in funding and legislation. Some efforts stalled, like in Minneapolis where George Floyd was killed.

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