Reporter drew on life experience to report on inadequate prison dental care

Mary Otto

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ's topic leader on oral health and the author of "Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America." She can be reached at mary@healthjournalism.org.

Photo: Thomas Hawk via Flickr

Much remains unknown about the oral health status of more than two million incarcerated Americans, but research suggests that many dental needs go unmet behind bars.

Reporting on the problem can be challenging. But in a recent project we wrote about, Keri Blakinger, who covers breaking news, prisons and the death penalty for the Houston Chronicle, found a way to document the desperate wait for dentures in Texas state prisons.

Keri Blakinger

In this new Q&A, Blakinger discusses her work on the stories, which culminated in the announcement by state prison officials of an innovative 3-D printing program that could bring dentures to more Texas prisoners who need them.

Blakinger, who came to journalism after serving time for a drug conviction, also shares a little wisdom on the gift of rebuilding one’s life.

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