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Kelly Virella

Image of Kelly Virella

Kelly Virella is deputy editor at City Limits. Prior to that, she was a staff reporter at The Chicago Reporter, a freelance writer and editor, and a member of Northwestern University's Academy for Alternative Journalism in 2007. Her work has appeared in the Chicago Reader, theSt. Petersburg Times, Urban Ecology, City Limits and AlterNet. She also authored a chapter in the book Prison Nation: The Warehousing of America's Poor.


Interviews and Appearances

WNYC: Sex Abuse in New York's Prisons (June 2011)

WPLJ: Bill Ayres' Community Connections (June 2011)

Articles, Investigations and Blogs

As many as one in five child welfare cases involves a parent with a mental health diagnosis, creating challenges for parents, children and caseworkers. Advocates say efforts to address those challenges haven't gone far enough.

There are reports that some parents are having trouble getting child welfare services because a botched contract award and budget threats last year led providers to scale back.

Hoping to reduce fights, prevent suicide and help inmates avoid returning to jail, New York is changing the way it evaluates new prisoners—and building a new jail. Advocates are split on whether that will solve the problem.

You can now listen to a discussion of our May investigation into the sexual abuse of female prisoners by New York State prison employees, thanks to local radio stations who have interviewed us about it.

In the debate over budget cuts, teacher layoffs and improving schools, much has been said about teachers who get “unsatisfactory” ratings. But little has been heard from those instructors.

New York State prison guards who break the law by having sex with an inmate often receive favorable treatment by juries and light sentences from judges.

In this month's issue of City Limits magazine, we investigate staff sexual abuse of female inmates in state prisons. In this chapter, a look at the prison officers implicated in allegations of abuse.

Several New York State prisons ranked high in a recent federal survey of inmates reporting staff sexual abuse. A City Limits investigation finds that sexual misconduct in New York's prisons eludes stereotypes—and, sometimes, detection.

In 1999, an officer and an inmate at Manhattan's Bayview Correctional Facility fell in love and started having sex, with consequences that reverberate today.

For at least 35 years, New York State legal advocates, prison officials and unions have wrestled over how to protect female inmates from sexual abuse when male officers guard them.

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