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Adam Rhodes

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journalist, data nerd, dog dad

(any pronouns!)

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About Me

I am an investigative journalist and I devote my work to uncovering corruption and wrongdoing in our nation's criminal legal systems.


My reporting has shined a light on struggles to access HIV treatment, numerous homophobic murder trials, and this country's history of criminalizing queerness.

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Over the course of my career, I have investigated a racist, homophobic law that criminalized HIV in Illinois; controversial surgeries on intersex minors; multiple anti-gay murder trials; access to HIV treatment in Puerto Rico; and, largely, how queer and trans people interact with the criminal legal system in the U.S.



My Expertise

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Public Records

FOIA, open data portals, you name it! I am a seasoned public records hound.

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Long form Writing

I pride myself on telling dynamic, complicated stories with care and nuance.

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Data

Analysis

I'm skilled using data (public or otherwise) to add crucial context and depth to my work.

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Social justice Journalism

I specialize in work that focuses on how systems impact our most vulnerable.

My Writing Samples


  • Chicago Reader: A decades-long pattern of anti-Black racism has made Chicago’s principal queer neighborhood hostile to LGBTQ+ people of color. But a group made up mostly of Black performers and activists are pushing the community to change after a summer of incidents that sparked outrage and protest. This piece was a finalist for a Peter Lisagor Award for “Best Non-deadline Reporting” in 2021.


  • The Appeal: Some states have banned a controversial homophobic legal defense, but other efforts, including at the federal level, are facing challenges.


  • BuzzFeed News: With the coronavirus spreading and natural disasters intensifying, HIV-positive Puerto Ricans are having to decide to flee — or stay and fight for their lives.


  • The Nation: A wave of labor organizing at queer instituions in Chicago comes amid a wave of anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and violence across the country, and as a staunch union ally, Mayor Brandon Johnson, starts his first term in office.


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The bulk of my work focuses on how queer people are impacted by America’s criminal legal system. Some standout examples include:


  • My exclusive reporting on how New Jersey prison officials rolled back a housing policy related to the rights of transgender prisoners after controversial pregnancies at a women’s prison.


  • My landmark investigation into Illinois’ now-repealed law that made it a felony to expose someone to HIV without their knowledge. My investigation showed that 75% of those charged under the law in Cook County were Black.


  • A look at several state bills that seek to ban gender affirming care in prisons and jails — a nearly silent trend among a greater wave of anti-trans legislation.


  • My investigation into a late 90s capital murder trial in rural Illinois that saw prosecutors use homophobic rhetoric to secure a death sentence. This project was a finalist for a Peter Lisagor Award for “Best Reporting on Crime and Justice" from the Chicago Headline Club in 2023.
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Let's Work Together

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