Complicated grievance process creates roadblocks for detainees

Experts say that the number of Illinois county jail detainees filing civil rights lawsuits has decreased over the past decade, a trend that is not beneficial for detainees’ rights. According to a Chicago Reporter analysis of federal court records, an estimated 97 civil rights lawsuits were filed by detainees against Illinois county jails or sheriffs from October 2007 to November 2009.

Mammography report stirs controversy

The news: The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force in November recommended that women start getting mammograms at age 50 instead of 40, the age the task force recommended back in 2002. Behind the news: The task force no longer recommends mammograms during the period in which black women are most often diagnosed with breast cancer. Nationally, the rate of diagnosis for black women younger than 45 is higher than it is for any other racial or ethnic group. Among all ages, black women also have the nation’s highest death rates from breast cancer. “If I had followed the new guidelines, I wouldn’t be here today,” said Beverly Gavin, who was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 41.

Teens surveyed about violence

The news: In November, a federal judge sided with a group of 11 students suing for their right to transfer out of Christian Fenger Academy High School. An honors student was beaten to death in a fight near the school in September. Behind the news: Problems with teen violence extend well beyond any single high school, according to a 2009 survey conducted with 574 black and Latino high school students in the city. The survey, conducted in the summer by the Mikva Challenge, a Chicago-based nonprofit that works to get high school students involved in political processes, indicated the sense of danger teens feel in their neighborhoods. About 48 percent of respondents said violence is among the top three issues affecting young people today.