Apr 14, 2022 - Things to Do

Podcast spotlight: "Motive" Season 4

Motive logo for podcast

Motive podcast log. Photo courtesy of WBEZ.

WBEZ has released Season 4 of its investigative "Motive" podcast.

  • Hosted by reporter Shannon Heffernan, this season explores Illinois prisons.

The origin: "It started with a tip about a man who died at Western Illinois Correctional Center. We were told he was beaten by guards and began to investigate," Heffernan tells Axios.

  • "But the deeper we got into the story, the more we realized this was not just about one case — there had been allegations of abuse for years."

The goal: Look beyond a few bad apples "to talk about the whole orchard — like what parts of the prison system created conditions where this could happen?"

  • "That set our team off on a year's long journey, that landed us in some unexpected places: small-town parades, local political races, and a trove of emails between prison guards."

Biggest surprise: "Something called the prison sweepstakes, where small towns in Illinois competed in the '80s and '90s to 'win' prisons, and the jobs that come with them."

Heffernan's hope: "That people with a lot of different views on incarceration and crime will listen to these stories," and learn that prisons don't have to be this way.

ğŸŽ§ Meanwhile, Heffernan says she is currently listening to the "Believe Her" podcast.

  • "I also really loved 'Somebody' from the Invisible Institute."
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