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Welcome to the Reader's morning briefing for Monday, December 19, 2016.
Monday will be the last bitterly cold day of the week, thank goodness, with a high of 16 and a low of 12. The sun will be out, but temperatures will feel below zero during the day. [AccuWeather]
The number of prisoners in Illinois has dropped to 43,807 (as of last week) compared to 48,214 when Governor Bruce Rauner was inaugurated in January 2015—a 9.1 percent drop. Rauner set a goal for the Illinois Department of Corrections to decrease the number of inmates by 25 percent in 2025. Both Republicans and Democrats support his criminal-justice reform agenda, but the ongoing state budget impasse could damage what has been achieved. "Criminal justice is not just about punishment," Rauner said Thursday. "If we think that it's only about punishment, we will never keep the people of Illinois safe." [Times of Northwest Indiana via Lee newspapers]
Mayor Rahm Emanuel wrote an op-ed touting Chicago Public Schools' increasing graduation rate and outlining his education agenda in the Washington Post. Prompted by president-elect Donald Trump's appointment of "voucher and charter school advocate" Betsy DeVos as education secretary, Emanuel mentions the records of Chicago's successful charter schools, including Urban Prep, but also discusses his plan to improve neighborhood CPS schools. [Washington Post]
The Independent Police Review Authority ruled that Chicago police officer George Hernandez's shooting of 25-year-old Ronald Johnson III in 2014 was justified. Johnson "wielded a firearm" as he ran from police, according to the IPRA. [CBS News]
Chance the Rapper was the musical guest on Saturday Night Live this weekend, and he took the opportunity to pay homage to President Barack Obama's last Christmas in office. Chance and cast member Kenan Thompson made a parody video of Run D.M.C.'s "Christmas in Hollis" called "Jingle Barack." There was even a cameo from Chance's father, Ken Bennett, both a former Obama staffer and a former deputy chief of staff to Mayor Rahm Emanuel. One of the rap's standout lines: "Kids enjoy the presents while you can / 'cause next year you might get a bomb from Iran." [DNAinfo Chicago]
The Chicago Bears game against the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field Sunday may not have broken any records for cold temperatures, but it was still dangerously cold. Bears QB and California native Matt Barkley wore a wet suit under his uniform in order to stay warm and prevent frostbite. "I've worn a wet suit in water, but not on a football field," he told reporters after the game. "It ended up working out well. It did not restrict my play." [ESPN]