Molly Parker

ProPublica Distinguished Fellow

Watchdog Seeks Harsher Penalties in Wake of Abuse at Illinois Mental Health Center

The official cited investigations into a center for people with mental illnesses and developmental disabilities, where workers lied or conspired to thwart patient abuse inquiries.

Patients Went to This Isolated Facility for Treatment. Instead, Nearly Two Dozen Were Charged With Crimes.

For years, residents at the Illinois facility received scant treatment for their developmental disabilities and mental illnesses, then faced felonies for lashing out at staff.

“I Don’t Know Where I’m Going to Go”: HUD Displaces Even More Residents in This Small City

HUD already closed four public housing complexes in the Cairo, Ill., area. Now the federal agency is set to demolish a high-rise, gutting the city of some of its last affordable housing.

Report Finds “Code of Silence” at Mental Health Facility Where Staff Abused and Neglected Patients

A newly released report from an agency watchdog echoes reporting published earlier this year that revealed widespread collusion to cover up misconduct at the Illinois facility.

Chilling Audio Provides Rare Glimpse Into Abuse at Troubled Illinois Residential Facility

No one was charged when staff were caught on a 911 tape threatening violence against a Choate Mental Health and Developmental Center resident who has developmental disabilities. New reporting shows a culture of cover-ups at the facility.

Illinois Governor Calls for Changes After “Awful” Reports of Abuse at Developmental Center

Gov. J.B. Pritzker resisted, but did not rule out, a call to close Choate Mental Health and Developmental Center in southern Illinois after we found widespread problems.

At a Remote Mental Health Facility, a Culture of Cruelty Persists Despite Decades of Warnings

Federal and state officials have urged reforms at the rural facility for people with mental and developmental disabilities. But the state-run center still has more allegations of abuse and neglect than any other in Illinois.

A Disabled Young Patient Was Sent to Get Treatment. He Was Abused Instead. And He Wasn’t the Last.

The 24-year-old with developmental disabilities was brutally beaten by his caretakers inside a state-run facility with a long history of patient abuse.

Lawmakers Demand Action on Child Welfare Failures

Calls for improved access to mental health and substance abuse treatment follow reporting by ProPublica and The Southern Illinoisan on the large number of parents investigated repeatedly by Illinois’ Department of Children and Family Services.

What We Lose When We Conflate Child “Abuse” and “Neglect”

Growing up in Southern Illinois, I knew many children whose basic needs went unmet. Reporting here decades later, I began to wonder why the system wasn’t doing more to help their families.

The State Took His Kids Three Times. And Three Times It Gave Them Back.

In Southern Illinois, many families suspected of neglect cycle through the child welfare system. Too often they don’t get the help they need.

My Home Is a Place That Feels Safe. For Too Many Families, That’s Not the Case.

Where we live becomes part of who we are. It affects our quality of life. That’s why I report on low-income housing.

“They Painted Over Problems”: How Residents of One Affordable Housing Complex Went From Hope to Despair

Twenty years after a private developer took over an affordable housing complex, the property has deteriorated once again and is in need of a multimillion-dollar renovation. A multilayered and confusing financial situation has left some tenants distressed.

HUD Inspect: See if Publicly Subsidized Housing Units Passed or Failed Government Inspections

Across the country, publicly subsidized housing residents have discovered that passing scores on HUD inspections often don't match the reality of their living conditions. Look up housing complex scores near you.

Inside Public Housing Where Cockroaches Drop From the Wall and Kids are Getting Sick

Illinois’ HUD inspection failure rate is among the worst in the nation. A housing authority has delayed replacing one property for more than a decade. As the need for public housing rises, conditions in the aging structures are deteriorating.

Trump Called Baltimore “Vermin Infested” While the Federal Government Fails to Clean Up Rodents in Subsidized Housing

Baltimore’s public housing is among the most dilapidated and dangerous in the country — nearly half of complexes failed inspection — and Trump just spent a week attacking the city on Twitter.

HUD’s Inspection System Gets a Poor Grade in Congressional Watchdog’s Report

The Government Accountability Office’s findings mirror those of an investigation by The Southern Illinoisan and ProPublica, which documented numerous cases in which substandard housing complexes received passing — and even glowing — scores from HUD.

HUD Plans to Reduce Notice Given Before Inspections, but Advocates Are Unimpressed

A plan recently announced by the agency doesn’t address its much-maligned scoring system, despite recommendations drafted in 2016 by senior department officials.

HUD’s System for Processing Public Records Requests Died During the Shutdown

The contract for the agency’s electronic system for managing FOIA requests lapsed in early January and hasn’t been renewed. Delays are mounting.

What I Learned Covering HUD: Oversight Failures Are Symptoms of Deeper Dysfunction

My goal this year was to explore HUD’s failure to enforce legal standards for decent, safe, sanitary housing. What started as a simple premise brought to light greater challenges: Years of congressional cuts have left the agency in a state of chaos as communities suffer.

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