Cheryl Corley

With the rise of videos showing violent and often deadly encounters between police and citizens, there's also been an increase in the creation or expansion of civilian oversight groups to monitor police departments. Today, there are about 18,000 police departments in the U.S. and, according to the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement, there are about 200 civilian groups that monitor police.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Danica Patrick is one of the biggest names in motor sports, one of the most successful women in the history of American racing, and tomorrow, her last race is one of the world's most famous - the Indy 500. NPR's Cheryl Corley reports.

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

All over America today, students staged walkouts to protest school shootings. Let's hear now from Chicago where students rallied against the wider epidemic of gun violence in their city. NPR's Cheryl Corley has this report.

No one knows how many people wrongfully convicted of crimes are in prison, but last year 139 of them were exonerated. That's a drop from 2016, when there were 171 such cases.

The numbers released today by the National Registry of Exonerations shows that Texas still led the nation with 23 exonerees last year followed by Illinois (21), Michigan (14) and New York (13).

When the bell rings at Chicago's Sullivan High School on the city's far north side, it's a familiar scene. Hundreds of students pour into the hallway heading to their next class. What's also becoming increasingly familiar is the presence of two uniformed police officers in the hallway keeping watch. The school resource officers often chat with the students passing by and Sullivan's principal Chad Adams says the officers provide a higher level of security for the school and much more.

Edward Sanders was 17 years old when he was convicted of first degree murder in 1975. He was a passenger in the car of a drive-by shooting. He's now 60 and he was paroled this past summer — after spending 42 1/2 years in prison.

Sanders says he is nothing like the teenager sentenced four decades ago. "I don't identify with that youth that committed the offenses he committed. I condemn that youth. I rebuke his behavior. I'm not that person."

A fatal police shooting in Kansas late last month focused attention again on how so-called swatting — prank 911 calls designed to get SWAT teams to deploy — puts lives at risk and burdens police departments.

There are more than 7,000 911 centers in the U.S. and, according to the National Emergency Number Association, they receive about 600,000 calls a day. Authorities don't track swatting calls nationally, though the FBI has been monitoring the practice of those types of fake calls for about a decade.

Today in Chicago, Judge Leroy Martin threw out the convictions of 15 men in what defense attorneys call a landmark decision and the "first mass exoneration" in Cook County. The men, who all served prison terms, claim they were framed by former Chicago Police Sgt. Ronald Watts and officers under his command. One of the men, Leonard Gipson, spent four years in prison and says Watts would demand money and then drugs on a person and arrest them if he was not paid.

In Chicago, an odd mix of brazen action by detainees in jail and declining budgets is keeping public defenders from talking to their clients in the lockup areas behind county courtrooms.

Cook County Public Defender Amy Campanelli says this will continue until authorities can find a way to stop some of the men in custody from exposing themselves to female attorneys.

The names of black men and boys such as Eric Garner, Philando Castile and Tamir Rice, are often rallying cries during protests over alleged police misconduct.

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