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Katy Welter
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Blog Entries by Katy Welter

Does Race or Gender Influence Professional Judgement?

(1) Comments | Posted October 29, 2012 | 1:50 PM

Does race or gender influence decision-making among members of the most respected professions? Several recent, high-profile studies conclude that, yes, even scientists, doctors, and judges are vulnerable to such unconscious bias.

In a recent, widely discussed study, Yale researchers surveying science professors at various U.S. universities found significant,...

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It's Time to Coordinate on Diversion

(1) Comments | Posted August 17, 2012 | 1:58 PM

In response to growing concern about violent crime and shrinking budgets, public officials have adopted a number of initiatives to prioritize use of scarce resources. And despite an ordinance requiring a cooperative approach to diversion of offenders from jail, these efforts remain isolated. Chicago lacks a comprehensive criminal justice strategy....

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Cook County Bond Court Overlooks Critical Information

(3) Comments | Posted February 2, 2012 | 9:52 AM

In less than the time it takes to make an ATM withdrawal, Cook County Bond Court judges make decisions affecting individual liberty and the public safety. This way of transacting justice exacts a dear convenience fee -- defendants' liberty, the community's safety, public funds -- all contrary to long-standing legislation....

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Smart Criminal Justice Policies Gain Momentum in Chicago, Cook County

(4) Comments | Posted November 3, 2011 | 6:15 PM

County and city officials have taken bold yet prudent steps toward sensible, cost-effective public safety policies. The county has expanded use of electronic monitoring and the city is now considering issuing a fine in lieu of arrest for marijuana possession -- a move many suburbs have already made.

Both...

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Finding the "Fat Catchers" of Criminal Justice

(0) Comments | Posted October 9, 2011 | 12:34 PM

Cook County criminal justice can learn some valuable lessons from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Oakland A's. Namely, experts are often overconfident. They make mistakes because they see the world from a narrow, limited perspective, and they have inadequate, unsystematic information. Their incorrect diagnoses can be tremendously...

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A Call for Transparency: Illinois Judicial Vacancies Should Be Made Public

(4) Comments | Posted June 24, 2011 | 4:04 PM

When an Illinois judge quits or retires before the end of her term, Article VI, Section 12 of the Illinois Constitution allows the Illinois Supreme Court to select her replacement. This process happens behind closed doors --the vacancy is not announced publicly and there is no public notice period....

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Immigration Court Reform Serves Everyone's Interests

(2) Comments | Posted May 31, 2011 | 4:33 PM

"These are death penalty cases being handled with the resources of traffic court," one Immigration Court judge told Chicago Appleseed, in an interview for a 2009 report.

A recent two-part Associated Press report on immigration court also captured the system's stunning dysfunction: a "massive crisis" in which...

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The Truth About False Confessions

(1) Comments | Posted May 23, 2011 | 4:46 PM

It's nearly impossible to imagine an innocent person confessing to homicide. Especially in a state that institutes the death penalty. Why on earth would a person -- a wholly innocent person -- not just hold his ground and refuse to confess?

That failure of imagination turns into outright skepticism when...

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Diversion a Must for Justice and Economy

(3) Comments | Posted May 12, 2011 | 5:52 PM

Imagine a program that saves Cook County at least $20 million per year while reducing crime, incarceration, and unemployment. This is no fantasy -- it's called diversion court, and Cook County can and should implement it right away.

Last fall, Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice and the...

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Judges Should Be Evaluated for Performance, Not Politics

(5) Comments | Posted February 22, 2011 | 9:57 AM

When a judge is weighing the merits of a case, the popularity of her decision should be the last thing on her mind. And when casting a ballot for a judge, performance, not political issues, should be a voter's first concern. Yet, outcome-based judicial evaluations, or issue-specific "judicial report cards,"...

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Diversion Division: A Remedy for Racially Disproportionate Drug Enforcement

(19) Comments | Posted February 9, 2011 | 2:06 PM

In Illinois last week, a statutorily mandated, unbiased committee, the Disproportionate Justice Impact Study (DJIS) Commission, reported the latest evidence confirming a long-held suspicion -- that the war on drugs undermines African Americans and their communities, to devastating end. As one remedy, the report (PDF) recommends that Illinois...

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Small Business Saturday Makes Economic Sense

(1) Comments | Posted November 23, 2010 | 10:48 AM

This Saturday, November 27, is so-called Small Business Saturday, sponsored by American Express. Specifically, the credit card giant is offering card users a $25 credit to their account if they pre-register their cards on facebook.com/smallbusinesssaturday.com and make a purchase of at least $25 at a locally owned, brick-and-mortar...

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Put Your Money With a Boring Bank

(2) Comments | Posted September 23, 2010 | 6:03 PM

Banking is not meant to be exciting. Interest rates, financial statements, title work, and, ugh, regulations won't raise your pulse. When my dad started working for Indiana National Bank in the early 1970's, as he tells it, it was painfully boring. In those days, banks were so highly regulated that...

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Small Banks May Fail but They're Still a Better Bet

(6) Comments | Posted September 3, 2010 | 12:08 PM

Businesses fail. Or at least, a fair number should fail in a healthy capitalist system. Risk -- of failure and reward -- is an essential component of the American way of doing business. Americans have always risked personal and financial failure in pursuit of greatness, as when pioneers settled the...

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Want to Help Small Businesses? Move Your Money to One

(4) Comments | Posted August 23, 2010 | 5:54 PM

Small banks are small businesses, too. And they pay it forward. When you keep your checking or savings account--yes, even those of you with what you perceive to be "small change"--with a local bank, that bank loans it to local business owners (among other borrowers). The Small Business Administration defines...

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You Want Your Banker to Know You -- Trust Me

(1) Comments | Posted August 13, 2010 | 4:00 PM

When I started working as a teller at First National Bank of Valparaiso, I learned my regular customers' names. If I didn't, they'd give me a disappointed or concerned look and usually glance over my shoulder for one of the veteran tellers who did know them. Even though they may...

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What Is a Community Bank, Anyway?

(3) Comments | Posted August 4, 2010 | 5:25 PM

The wikipedia entry for "community banks" is four lines long. That's not saying much about one of the most important collections of businesses in our economy. Community bank is one of those phrases, like "all natural," that people use without really knowing what they mean or how others...

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To Be a Banker Is to Be in Heaven

(6) Comments | Posted July 28, 2010 | 3:50 PM

As a kid, I knew a boy whose father was a carpenter. The boy learned how to use a circular saw at an alarmingly young age, and he and his father built a magnificent tree house that earned the envy of the grade school. Another friend's dad was an FBI...

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