Mary Cullen

Mary works as an intern for NPR Illinois' Illinois Issues. She is currently a student in the Public Affairs Reporting master's degree program at the University of Illinois Springfield and will graduate in May 2018. Prior to coming to Springfield, Mary worked as the Editorial Intern at the Chicago Sun-Times. She obtained her bachelor's degree in journalism from Illinois State University where she served as the school newspaper's news editor and editorial writer. Mary is from Naperville, Ill., and attended Wheaton Warrenville South High School.

The Illinois General Assembly is continuing its push to change what’s been criticized as a culture of sexual harassment. Lawmakers approved the first set of recommendations from a task force Thursday.

The measure would overhaul the power of the legislative inspector general — taking hiring and firing authority away from the legislative leaders and giving it to the Legislative Ethics Commission.

It would also allow the inspector general to investigate sexual harassment without getting permission from the commission.

A measure that has passed the Illinois House would require hospitals to have Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs) who can treat and examine victims of sexual assault. Some say it would mean better collection of forensic evidence and better treatment of victims.

 

For this week’s Illinois Issues, we bring you a story about a measure that would train more nurses how to collect DNA evidence after a sexual assault for use in a criminal trial, often referred to as rape kits. NPR Illinois spoke with Melissa Souto about her experience undergoing the testing.

Souto, a 23-year-old Chicago resident, said she was sexually assaulted two years ago on an Illinois college campus. She could not say where since her legal case is pending. Following the incident, Souto decided to get a rape kit.

Casting a ballot before election day is becoming more popular in Illinois, according to a report by the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform (ICPR). The group found that the percentage of voters opting to vote before election day climbed to 22 percent this primary compared to 18 percent in 2016.

The Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield and Du Quoin, which are frequented by hundreds of thousands of people annually, are included on Landmarks Illinois’ latest list of Most Endangered Historic Places.

Landmarks Illinois compiles the annual list as a way to call attention to threats of development, deterioration and more.  

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