Tag Archives: prison

S. Dakota pilot project reduces number of inmates with mental health, behavioral issues

About Katti Gray

Katti Gray (@kattigray) is AHCJ's core topic leader for behavioral and mental health. A former Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Journalism Fellow, Gray is providing resources to help AHCJ members expand their coverage of mental health amid ongoing efforts to de-stigmatize mental illness and to place mental health care on par with all health care.

Photo: Chris Landsberger, courtesy of The OklahomanThis photo from Jaclyn Cosgrove’s series for The Oklahoman shows a male inmate in the Oklahoma County Jail’s mental health unit.

Amid a nationwide push to pare the number of incarcerated people with mental and/or behavioral disorders, a South Dakota pilot project giving law enforcement officials 24/7 online access to mental health clinicians has diverted from lockdown and into community-based care about 75% of people confronted by police during a mental/behavioral crisis.

Launched in January 2020, Virtual Crisis Care is among the first endeavors of its kind in rural America. It mirrors a comparatively small but slowly growing number of mainly urban projects that, along with virtually connecting police and probation officers with social workers, psychologists and other mental health clinicians, have sometimes placed those professionals in a cop car. Continue reading

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

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. Continue reading

Advice from a reporter experienced in interviewing people in stigmatized populations

About Emily Willingham

Emily Willingham (@ejwillingham) is AHCJ's core topic leader on the social determinants of health. She is a science journalist whose work has appeared in the Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Wall Street Journal, Scientific American, and Forbes, among others, and co-author of "The Informed Parent: A Science-Based Guide to Your Child's First Four Years."

Heather Boerner’s October 2018 piece at NPR examined the fate of people who live without treatment for their HIV after they leave prison. The piece was pinned to a study published in PLOS One showing that people with HIV often are lost to care once they leave the monitoring and services provided in prison.

In her article, in addition to providing an in-depth perspective from several experts, Boerner also gave the reader the story of Bryan C. Jones, who had left a prison in Ohio and almost immediately ditched his HIV drugs because he knew they were no longer working. Continue reading

Texas prisoners denied dentures; 3D printing might change that

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: Gary Thomson via Flickr

Over the course of the past year, more than two dozen Texas inmates contacted the Houston Chronicle with grim stories of their life behind bars —without teeth.

Some choked on their food. Others subsisted on pureed meals. They shared their medical records and their grievances. They told the newspaper that their pleas for dentures had gone unanswered by prison officials. Continue reading

‘Invisible’ inmates face barriers to getting dental care

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: Paul Robinson via Flickr

The U.S. Constitution prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. A 1976 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Estelle V. Gamble, declares that prisoners must be protected from “deliberate indifference to their serious medical needs.”

But how does oral health care fit into this picture? Continue reading